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Broadway v. Meek

United States District Court, D. Montana, Great Falls Division

December 5, 2017

DAVID BROADWAY, Plaintiff,
v.
KARI ANN MEEK and ALLSTATE INSURANCE CO., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          BRIAN MORRIS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT JUDGE.

         INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiff David Broadway (Broadway), brought this action to recover underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage benefits under an automobile insurance policy issued by Allstate Insurance Company (Allstate). Presently before the Court are the parties'cross-motions for partial summary judgment. The Court conducted a hearing on the motions on November 27, 2017.

         BACKGROUND

         Broadway was injured in an auto accident in Great Falls, Montana on July 9, 2014. A vehicle driven by Defendant Kari Meek (Meek) collided with the 2005 Hyundai Tucson driven by Broadway. Progressive Auto Insurance Company (Progressive) insured Meek.

         Broadway's father was the titled owner of the Hyundai at the time of the accident. Broadway was driving the Hyundai with his father's permission. Broadway's parents had insured the Hyundai under an insurance policy issued by Allstate in Kansas. Broadway's father had gifted the Hyundai to Broadway before the accident. Paperwork to transfer legal title to the Hyundai to Broadway had not yet been completed. Broadway had not obtained his own insurance on the Hyundai at the time of the accident. The Allstate policy issued to Broadway's parents remained in effect when the accident occurred.

         Broadway filed a personal injury lawsuit against Meek in state court on April 5, 2016. (Doc. 3). Broadway settled his claims against Meek for the $100, 000 limits under Meek's insurance policy with Progressive. Broadway contends that the $100, 000 that he received from Progressive failed to make him whole. Broadway seeks $100, 000 in UIM benefits from Allstate. Allstate has refused to pay UIM benefits.

         Broadway filed an Amended Complaint in state Court on March 10, 2017, that named Allstate as a defendant. (Doc. 4). Broadway asserted two claims against Allstate: a breach of contract claim seeking $100, 000 in UIM benefits, and a bad faith claim. Allstate removed the case based on diversity of citizenship. (Doc. 1).

         The parties' cross-motions for partial summary judgment present a choice of law question. The parties disagree on whether Kansas law or Montana governs the interpretation of the Allstate policy. Allstate argues that Kansas law applies. Broadway argues that Montana law applies.

         DISCUSSION

         A. Legal Standard

         Federal courts sitting in diversity jurisdiction apply the substantive law of the forum state, including the choice of law rules of the forum state. See Mason and Dixon Intermodal, Inc. v. Lapmaster International, LLC, 632 F.3d 1056, 1060 (9th Cir. 2011); Unified Western Grocers, Inc. v. Twin City Fire Ins. Co., 457 F.3d 1106, 1111 (9th Cir. 2006). Montana's choice of law principles apply.

         B. Choice of Law Provision

         The Allstate policy contains a choice of law provision. Montana law provides that when an insurance policy contains a choice of law provision, the court must apply the chosen state's law unless: 1) the chosen state has no substantial relationship to the parties; or 2) Montana possesses a materially greater interest than the chosen state and application of the chosen state's laws would be contrary to a fundamental policy of the state of Montana. Tidyman's Mgmt. Servs. ...


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