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STATE FARM MUTUAL AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE COMPANY v. BETTY J. ACOSTA

OCTOBER 16, 1985

STATE FARM MUTUAL AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE COMPANY
v.
BETTY J. ACOSTA, INDIVIDUALLY & AS NATURAL GUARDIAN OF DONNA ACOSTA & JOSEPH Q. WHITE, JR., CONSERVATOR OF DONNA ACOSTA



BEFORE PATTERSON, C.J., PRATHER & ROBERTSON, JJ.

PATTERSON, CHIEF JUSTICE, FOR THE COURT:

Betty Acosta, individually and as the mother and natural guardian of Donna Acosta, sued State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company to recover medical and uninsured motorists benefits under two insurance policies covering two vehicles. Donna, an insured under both automobile policies, was severely injured when hit by an uninsured motorist while driving one of the insured vehicles.

The two policies were issued separately to Betty Acosta

 and separate premiums were paid. They are identical in language, one covering a 1969 Toyota, involved in the accident; the other a 1978 Monte Carlo, not in the accident. Both policies provided $5,000.00 medical payment and $10,000.00 each person/$20,000.00 two or more persons per accident uninsured motorists coverage. State Farm admitted liability to Donna under the Toyota policy for the $5,000.00 medical payment benefit and $10,000.00 uninsured motorist coverage. They further admitted $10,000.00 uninsured motorist coverage due Donna under the Monte Carlo policy. Prior to suit State Farm paid a $10,000.00 uninsured motorist claim under the Toyota policy to a passenger accompanying Donna when the accident happened.

 Betty claimed she was due $5,000.00 medical payment on the Monte Carlo policy as well as $10,000.00 uninsured motorists coverage under each policy. Her suit included a bad faith claim for punitive damages against State Farm.

 The jury returned a verdict for State Farm on the punitive damage issue. The trial court determined the policies permitted Betty to recover individually the $5,000.00 medical payment and the $10,000.00 uninsured motorist coverage on the Monte Carlo policy as a result of her losses due to Donna's injuries, but denied recovery under the Toyota policy as the prior payments to Donna and her injured passenger exhausted its per occurrence limit.

 State Farm assigns as error:

 1. The trial court erred as a matter of law in aggregating per person limits of liability under uninsured motorists coverage in favor of an insured not bodily injured in addition to those aggregated in favor of the bodily injured insured;

 2. The trial court erred in aggregating medical payments coverage provided in an insurance policy covering a 1978 Monte Carlo not involved in the accident;

 3. The trial court erred in awarding prejudgment interest, said award being against the overwhelming weight of authority and evidence.

 Betty Acosta cross-appeals, alleging:

 1. The trial court erred in failing to inform the jury of its determination that Betty Acosta was entitled to uninsured motorists benefits as a matter of law and

 the resulting verdict in favor of State Farm was against the overwhelming weight and sufficiency of the evidence.

 We are of the opinion the trial court erred in aggregating the liability of State Farm under the Monte Carlo uninsured motorist coverage for Betty because she sustained no bodily injury. This determination is based upon Old Sec. Cas. Ins. Co. v. Clemmer, 455 So. 2d 781 (Miss. 1984). Therein policy language, similar to that found in the State Farm policy issued to Betty Acosta, was held to limit the per occurrence recovery for ...


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