The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals issued its opinion in Christofferson v. United Parcel Service, Inc. on Wednesday, April 2, 2014.
Mr. Alan Christoffersen drove a truck for United Parcel Service (UPS) until he was struck and killed by an underinsured motorist. After the accident, Mr. Christoffersen’s heirs sued UPS and its automobile insurer (Liberty Mutual Insurance Group), asserting claims for underinsured motorist (UIM) benefits. All parties moved for summary judgment. The district court granted UPS’s motion on the ground that Utah’s Worker’s Compensation Act provided the exclusive remedy. On the claim against Liberty Mutual, the court granted judgment to the heirs for $10,000. Through this judgment, the court effectively awarded partial summary judgment to both sides, holding that: (1) UPS did not validly reject UIM coverage under its 2008 policy, (2) the policy was a “new” policy for purposes of determining UIM coverage, and (3) the heirs were entitled to recover UIM benefits in the amount of $10,000. The heirs and Liberty Mutual appealed.
The Tenth Circuit concluded that Liberty Mutual did not incur liability because UPS validly rejected UIM coverage; thus, on the claim against Liberty Mutual, the judgment of $10,000 for the heirs was reversed and the claim was remanded with instructions to grant summary judgment to Liberty Mutual on the entire claim.The award of summary judgment to UPS was affirmed because UPS was not considered a “self insurer” for purposes of Utah’s UIM statute.