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Marshall v. Safeco Insurance Company of Illinois

Supreme Court of Montana

March 13, 2018

MARCIA MARSHALL, Plaintiff and Appellant,
v.
SAFECO INSURANCE COMPANY OF ILLINOIS, and MID-CENTURY INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendants and Appellees.

          Submitted on Briefs: February 6, 2018

         APPEAL FROM: District Court of the Sixth Judicial District, In and For the County of Park, Cause No. DV 13-169 Honorable Brenda Gilbert, Presiding Judge

          Lawrence A. Anderson, Attorney at Law; Great Falls, Montana Daniel P. Buckley, Buckley Law Office, P.C.; Bozeman, Montana For Appellant

          Paul N. Tranel, Bohyer, Erickson, Beaudette & Tranel, P.C.; Missoula, Montana Nicholas J. Pagnotta, Williams Law Firm, P.C.; Missoula, Montana For Appellees

          OPINION

          INGRID GUSTAFSON

         ¶1 Marcia Marshall (Marshall) appeals a June 8, 2017 order of the Sixth Judicial District, Park County, granting Safeco Insurance Company and Mid-Century Insurance Company's (collectively, the Defendants) motion to dismiss. We reverse and remand.

         ¶2 We restate the issue on appeal as follows:

         1. Whether the District Court erred in granting the Defendants' motion to dismiss pursuant to M. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6).

         FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         ¶3 This case arises from a motor vehicle accident in Park County on February 14, 2010. Marshall was riding as a passenger in a car driven by Kevin Gallivan. Another individual, Peter Kirwan, owned the vehicle driven by Gallivan. Marshall alleged Gallivan's negligence caused the motor vehicle accident. Marshall suffered severe injuries resulting from the accident. Defendant Safeco insured Kirwan, the car owner. Defendant Mid-Century insured Gallivan, the driver. The Defendants provided liability coverage under each separate policy. The Defendants and Marshall entered into a settlement agreement prior to trial resolving the underlying claim.

         ¶4 Marshall filed an amended complaint against the Defendants on November 2, 2016. Marshall brought claims seeking declaratory judgment and violations under the Unfair Trade Practices Act (UTPA). Marshall alleged the Defendants have utilized and relied upon the collateral source statute or its principles to take a reduction against damages sustained and owed to their insureds or claimants in violation of Montana law. Specifically, Marshall alleged the Defendants used the collateral source statute to justify reduction in her damages notwithstanding the collateral source statute was inapplicable. Further, Marshall's complaint attacks the constitutionally of the collateral source statute under § 27-1-308, MCA.

         ¶5 The Defendants filed a joint motion to dismiss on January 20, 2017. The District Court granted the Defendants' motion to dismiss. The District Court found our decision in Miller v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 2007 MT 85, 337 Mont. 67, 155 P.3d 1278, controlling. The District Court construed "the holding of Miller as providing that an insurer's consideration of a potential future offset under the collateral source doctrine during settlement negotiations does not create a justiciable controversy." Relying on Miller, the District Court concluded Marshall's claim under the UTPA and the Declaratory Judgment Act should be dismissed. Marshall timely appeals.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         ¶6 We review de novo a district court's ruling on a motion to dismiss pursuant to M. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). Western Sec. Bank v. Eide Bailly LLP, 2010 MT 291, ¶ 18, 359 Mont. 34, 249 P.3d 35. We construe the complaint in the light most favorable to the plaintiffs when reviewing an order dismissing a complaint under M. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6). A district court should not dismiss a complaint for failure to state a claim unless it appears beyond doubt the plaintiff can prove no set of facts in support of his claim that would entitle him to relief. Jones v. Mont. Univ. Sys., 2007 MT 82, ¶ 15, 337 Mont. 1, 155 P.3d 1247. A district court's determination that a complaint has failed to state a claim ...


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