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Hare v. State

March 18, 1999

JOSEPH HARE
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI AND CENTRA BENEFIT SERVICES, INC.



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

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

DATE OF JUDGMENT: 10/20/1997

TRIAL JUDGE: HON. L. BRELAND HILBURN, JR.

COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: HINDS COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT

NATURE OF THE CASE: CIVIL - INSURANCE

DISPOSITION: REVERSED AND RENDERED- 03/18/1999

STATEMENT OF THE CASE

A. Statement of the Facts

¶1. On March 31, 1995, Appellant Joseph Hare (hereinafter "Hare") was involved in a motor vehicle accident with an uninsured motorist, Lotoya A. Weaver, in Noxubee County, Mississippi. Hare was a former employee of the Mississippi Forestry Commission who was occupationally disabled at the time of the collision and lost no wages as a result of the accident. Hare was still insured under the Mississippi State and Public School Employees' Health Insurance Plan (the "State Health Plan"), which is funded by the State of Mississippi (the "State") and administered by CENTRA Benefit Services, Inc. ("CENTRA"). Miss. Code Ann. § 25-15-11 (Supp.). The premiums for Hare's health coverage were paid 100 percent by the State. Miss. Code Ann. § 25-15-15 (Supp.).

¶2. As a result of the collision, Hare required hospitalization and accrued medical expenses totaling $8,667.50. The State, through CENTRA, paid health insurance benefits of $6,056.44. Hare was also insured under an uninsured motorist policy issued by Progressive Insurance Company, with policy limits of uninsured coverage being $10,000.00 per person/ $20,000.00 per accident.

¶3. Hare ultimately recovered $10,000.00 on the uninsured motorist policy in a settlement with Progressive. The State then asserted a subrogation claim against the uninsured motorist benefits collected by Hare. At no time did Hare or the State pursue a judgment against the tortfeasor, Weaver.

B. The Proceedings Below

¶4. On December 13, 1995, Hare filed a Complaint for Declaratory Judgment asking the County Court of First Judicial District of Hinds County, Mississippi, to adjudicate that the State and CENTRA were not entitled to subrogation. On Motion for Summary Judgment by Hare and Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment by the State and CENTRA, County Court Judge C. A. "Chet" Henley heard oral arguments by both parties and then granted the State's motion and denied Hare's motion.

¶5. Hare timely appealed the decision to the Circuit Court of the First Judicial District of Hinds County. Circuit Judge L. Breland Hilburn affirmed the judgment of the county court, and Hare timely appealed to this Court on October 20, 1997.

¶6. Aggrieved by the circuit court's judgment, Hare appeals to this Court and raises the following contentions:

I. THE COURTS BELOW ERRED BECAUSE THE STATE'S SUBROGATION CONTRACT IS INAPPLICABLE UNDER THESE CIRCUMSTANCES.

II. THE COURTS BELOW ERRED BECAUSE PUBLIC POLICY FORBIDS REIMBURSEMENT UNDER ...


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