BEFORE PATTERSON, DAN LEE AND PRATHER
PRATHER, JUSTICE, FOR THE COURT:
This action by Cora and Hubert Clemmer seeks to recover liability insurance proceeds for compensatory, punitive, and property damages awarded to the Clemmers against the insured of Old Security Casualty Insurance Company in a previous tort action. To collect the judgment, a writ of garnishment was issued by the Circuit Court of DeSoto County against the insurance company as garnishee. Old Security Casualty Insurance Company appeals from the circuit court judgment asserting that the policy limit for one person with bodily injury was exceeded.
On July 27, 1977 Cora Clemmer was driving an automobile in a northerly direction on U.S. Highway 61 in DeSoto County, Mississippi, following Hubert Clemmer, her husband, who was operating another vehicle. Ezekial Curry was traveling in a
southerly direction on the same highway and sideswiped Hubert Clemmer's vehicle and crossed the centerline and struck Cora Clemmer's car in her lane of traffic. Hubert Clemmer sustained no personal injury.
Curry carried liability insurance coverage with Old Security Casualty Insurance Company which provided bodily injury limits of coverage of $10,000.00 for each person per occurrence, and bodily injury limits of $20,000.00 for two or more persons as the result of any one occurrence. The policy also provided property damage coverage up to a limit of $5,000.00 per occurrence.
Cora and Hubert Clemmer filed a tort action against Ezekial Curry. Mrs. Clemmer sought compensatory and punitive damages. Mr. Clemmer sued for property damage to the vehicle driven by his wife and punitive damages for loss of consortium. The jury awarded Mrs. Clemmer $20,000.00 compensatory damages, Hubert Clemmer $10,000.00 property damage, but no damages for loss of consortium. The plaintiffs collectively were awarded punitive damages in the amount of $50,000.00. Neither the defendant nor his insurer appealed.
After the judgment became final, the Clemmers filed a suggestion for writ of garnishment against Old Security as garnishee, which suit was contested and is the subject of this appeal. The trial judge awarded the Clemmers the full amount of $25,000.00 from the limits of all coverages of the policy, including the $20,000.00 "per occurrence" limit for bodily injury and $5,000.00 "per occurrence" property limit. Old Security paid into court $13,800.00 for which it acknowledged liability, but contested the additional award of $10,000.00 for the "per occurrence" bodily injury coverage.
The appellant admits in its brief that the jury verdict to Hubert Clemmer of $10,000.00 would entitle Hubert Clemmer to a judgment against the garnishee defendant in the full amount of the property damage limit of $5,000.00, less any prepaid portion. Likewise, Cora Clemmer is entitled to a judgment against the garnishee defendant for the full amount of the bodily injury limit of $10,000.00 per person, less any prepaid portion by Old Security.
The question addressed here is whether an award of punitive damages to a second person (the husband) invokes the "per occurrence" limit for all damages arising from bodily injuries to "two or more persons as a result of any one occurrence?"
The pertinent provisions of the Old Security Casualty Insurance Company policy in question are as follows:
Coverage A Bodily Injury Liability: Coverage B- Property Damage Liability: To pay on behalf of the insured all sums which the insured shall become legally obligated to pay as damages because of: bodily injury, sickness or disease, including death resulting therefrom, hereinafter called "bodily injury," sustained by any person; injury to or destruction of property, including loss of use thereof, hereinafter called "property ...