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Clark v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co.

May 14, 1998

JOHN W. CLARK
v.
STATE FARM MUTUAL AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE COMPANY



DATE OF JUDGMENT: 06/10/96 TRIAL JUDGE: HON. KATHY KING JACKSON COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: JACKSON COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT

Before Prather, C.j., Smith And Waller, JJ.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Waller, Justice

NATURE OF THE CASE: CIVIL - INSURANCE

DISPOSITION AFFIRMED

MOTION FOR REHEARING FILED:

MANDATE ISSUED:

STATEMENT OF THE CASE

¶1. John Clark ("Clark") appeals the grant of summary judgment against him and in favor of State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company ("State Farm"). Clark was injured in Barcelona, Spain, and sought to recover his medical expenses under two State Farm policies he had purchased in the United States. State Farm denied coverage on the basis of a territorial exclusion contained in the policy, limiting coverage to loss occurring inside the United States with certain non-relevant exceptions. Both parties entered motions for summary judgment and a hearing was held on May 24, 1996. The trial court found that policy language unambiguously limited coverage and granted summary judgment in favor of State Farm. Clark filed timely notice of appeal, raising the following issue for this Court's consideration.

Did the trial court err in finding that certain territorial limitations contained in their policy language excluding medical payment coverage stemming from an accident occurring in Barcelona, Spain, where the medical bills claimed were incurred within the United States.

1. FACTS

¶2. Clark is no stranger to either adversity or this Court. When he was twenty-three years old, Clark was rendered a partial quadriplegic in a collision with a drunk driver. The facts of that prior tragedy are told in Clark v. City of Pascagoula, 507 So. 2d 70 (Miss. 1987). Clark recovered amazingly well from the earlier accident and had made the paralympic team in wheelchair racing. In May of 1992, Clark bought two automobile policies from State Farm, each containing a $25,000 medical coverage provision. In September of 1992, Clark was run down by a Coca-Cola truck in a crosswalk in Barcelona, Spain. Clark was flown back to the U.S. for treatment of his injuries. Subsequently, he visited his insurance agent and attempted to obtain the policy, but instead, he got a printed form outlining only the general elements of his coverage. Clark filed claims against State Farm for his injuries under the medical provisions of the plan. *fn1

¶3. State Farm denied coverage on the basis of a territorial limitation contained in the policy which limited coverage to loss occurring within the U.S. or certain parts of Mexico.

2. DISCUSSION

¶4. This Court reviews the grant of a motion for summary judgment de novo. Mississippi Gaming Comm'n v. Treasured Arts, Inc., 699 So. 2d 936, 938 (Miss. 1997); Delta Pride Catfish, Inc. v. Home Ins. Co., 697 So. 2d 400, 402 (Miss. 1997); Richmond v. Benchmark Constr. Corp., 692 So. 2d 60, 61 (Miss. 1997). On review, this Court looks to "all the evidentiary matters before it -- admissions in pleadings, answers to interrogatories, depositions, affidavits, etc." Aetna Cas. & Sur. Co. v. Berry, 669 So.2d 56, 70 (Miss. 1996)(quoting Mantachie Nat. Gas v. Miss. Valley Gas Co., 594 So.2d 1170, 1172 (Miss. 1992)). If the evidence appears, when viewed in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, that there is no triable issue of fact, then summary judgment is appropriate. Otherwise, such judgment should be denied. Berry, 669 So. 2d at 70. This Court thus examines the record to determine whether factual issues exist, but does ...


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