United States District Court, D. Montana, Billings Division
OPINION AND ORDER
P. WATTERS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court are cross motions for summary judgment. (Docs. 14
and 17). This case presents the issue of whether walking in a
parking lot with the purpose of getting back in one's
car, after briefly exiting one's car to order a to-go
breakfast during a long work-related road trip, is reasonably
connected to the operation of one's car. For the
following reasons, the Court holds that it is.
following facts are taken from the parties' joint
statement of stipulated facts and Boulter's statement of
undisputed facts, which The Hartford Fire Insurance Company
did not dispute. D. Mont. L.R. 56.1(c-d).
Boulter's workday began at 6:00 AM on March 24, 2014. He
and a co-worker had to drive a work van 140 miles from
Bozeman to Billings to drop off a load of material before
picking up another load and delivering it to Buffalo,
Wyoming. (Doc. 19, ¶¶ 5-6). After they dropped off
the first load in Billings, Boulter and his co-worker decided
to grab a McDonald's to-go breakfast before they
continued on to Buffalo. (Doc. 19, ¶ 6).
parked his work van in the McDonald's parking lot, exited
the vehicle, and went inside the McDonald's to order his
breakfast to-go. (Doc. 19, ¶ 6). After receiving his
order, Boulter exited the McDonald's and began walking
back towards his work van. (Doc. 16, ¶ 7; Doc. 19,
¶ 7). While walking towards his work van, an unknown
motorist drove past Boulter in a rushed manner. (Doc. 16,
¶ 7; Doc. 19, ¶ 8). Boulter stepped backwards out
of the way, slipped, and fell to the ground, suffering a
serious head injury. (Doc. 16, ¶ 7; Doc. 19, ¶ 8).
Boulter was about 60 feet away from his work van when he
fell. (Doc. 16, ¶ 8; Doc. 19, ¶ 9). The unknown
motorist has never been identified. (Doc. 19, ¶ 10).
employer insured Boulter's work van under a policy issued
by The Hartford Fire Insurance Company. (Doc. 16,
¶¶ 2-6). The policy provided uninsured motorist
coverage to "insureds." (Doc. 16, ¶ 3). Under
the policy, an "insured" is anyone
"occupying" a covered auto. (Doc. 16, ¶ 3).
"Occupying" means "in, upon, getting in, on,
out or off." (Doc. 16, ¶ 3). An "uninsured
motor vehicle" means "a hit-and-run vehicle and
neither the driver nor owner can be identified. The vehicle
must hit an 'insured,' a covered 'auto' or a
vehicle an 'insured' is 'occupying.'"
(Doc. 16, ¶ 3).
that evening after he fell, Boulter was life-flighted from
the emergency room in Bozeman to St. Vincent's hospital
in Billings for specialty care of a subdural hemorrhage,
craniotomy, and rehabilitation. (Doc. 19, ¶11). Boulter
made a claim for uninsured motorist coverage under the
policy. (Doc. 19, ¶ 12). Hartford Fire agreed the work
van was a covered auto, Boulter suffered bodily injury, and
the unknown motorist was an uninsured motor vehicle, but
denied Boulter coverage on the position that he was not an
"insured" because he was not "occupying"
the work van when he was injured. (Doc. 16-2 at 3).
sought a declaratory judgment in state district court that he
was an "insured" under the policy. (Doc. 3).
Hartford Fire removed the case to federal court. (Doc. 1).
The parties filed simultaneous motions for summary judgment
on two issues. First, whether Boulter is an
"insured" under the policy. Second, whether the
unknown motorist is an "uninsured motor vehicle"
under the policy. The parties agree Montana law governs the
Summary judgment standard
court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that
there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the
movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law."
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). A party seeking summary judgment always
bears the initial responsibility of informing the court of
the basis for its motion, and identifying those portions of
the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and
admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any,
which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue
of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett,
477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986).
facts are those which may affect the outcome of the case.
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248
(1986). A dispute as to a material fact is genuine if there
is sufficient evidence for a reasonable fact-finder to return
a verdict for the nonmoving party. Anderson, 477
U.S. at 248. If the moving party meets its initial
responsibility, the burden then shifts to the opposing party
to establish that a genuine issue of fact exists.
Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio
Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986).
Boulter is an "insured" because he was walking back
to his work van after briefly exiting the vehicle to order a