SHEILA BROWN v. RICO ROLAND (Tenn. Ct. App. September 24, 2010)
The matters at issue pertain to the rights and responsibilities of the parties under the underinsured motorist provisions of Plaintiff's automobile insurance. Plaintiff, who was involved in a vehicular accident with another motorist, commenced this personal injury action to recover an amount "under $25,000." The only named defendant is the tortfeasor, however, State Farm is an unnamed party. This is due to the fact that Plaintiff served timely and proper notice on State Farm of the commencement of this action and that she was asserting an underinsured coverage claim pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. section 56-7-1206.
Plaintiff subsequently entered into a settlement agreement with the tortfeasor for the tortfeasor's policy limits of $25,000, at which time she properly served notice on State Farm of the proposed settlement and her willingness to enter into binding arbitration with State Farm to settle her claim for underinsured motorist benefits.
Thereafter, State Farm filed a motion to dismiss the underinsured claim against it claiming Plaintiff was made whole when she agreed to a settlement with the tortfeasor in an amount in excess of her ad damnum and therefore there was no claim to arbitrate. The court granted the motion to dismiss and Plaintiff appealed.
We have determined the trial court did not err in granting State Farm's motion to dismiss the claim against it because Plaintiff sought to recover a judgment in an amount under $25,000 from the tortfeasor and/or State Farm, and Plaintiff settled her claim against the tortfeasor for an amount in excess of the ad damnum. Accordingly, we affirm the dismissal of State Farm.
Opinion may be found at: