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Hanfelder v. Geico Indemnity Co.

Court of Appeals of Arizona, First Division

May 22, 2018

RYAN HANFELDER, Plaintiff/Appellant,
v.
GEICO INDEMNITY COMPANY, Defendant/Appellee.

          Appeal from the Superior Court in Maricopa County No. CV2015-013979 The Honorable Roger E. Brodman, Judge

          Levenbaum Trachtenberg PLC, Phoenix By Geoffrey M. Trachtenberg, Justin Henry Counsel for Plaintiff/Appellant

          Lewis Roca Rothgerber Christie LLP, Phoenix By Joshua Grabel, Ian Matthew Fischer, Robert Schaffer Counsel for Defendant/Appellee

          Presiding Judge Jon W. Thompson delivered the Opinion of the Court, in which Judge Peter B. Swann and Judge James P. Beene joined.

          OPINION

          THOMPSON, PRESIDING JUDGE:

         ¶1 Appellant Ryan Hanfelder challenges the trial court's grant of summary judgment to Appellee GEICO Indemnity Company on his request for a declaration that he was entitled to underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage under his GEICO Indemnity policy. We reverse and remand for further proceedings.

         FACTUAL AND PROCEDRUAL BACKGROUND

         ¶2 Hanfelder was injured in a September 2013 motor vehicle accident. The other driver involved was insured through AAA Insurance Company (AAA). Hanfelder held two relevant insurance policies at the time: one through GEICO Casualty Company and one through GEICO Indemnity Company. GEICO Casualty is a wholly owned subsidiary of GEICO Indemnity.

         ¶3 AAA tendered its policy limits to Hanfelder. Hanfelder made a UIM claim on GEICO Casualty, and GEICO Casualty tendered its policy limits. Hanfelder then made a UIM claim on GEICO Indemnity. GEICO Indemnity denied coverage under the "Limit of Liability" provision in its "Motorcycle Policy Amendment-Underinsured Motorist Coverage" (the Amendment), which states:

If separate policies or coverages with us are in effect for you or any person in your household, they may not be combined to increase the limit of our liability for a loss; however, you have the right to select which policy or coverage is to be applicable for the loss.

         ¶4 Hanfelder sued GEICO Indemnity seeking a declaration that he was entitled to UIM coverage under its policy. Following cross-motions for summary judgment, the trial court granted summary judgment for GEICO Indemnity, finding the Amendment limited Hanfelder's UIM coverage to policy limits of one of the two policies under Arizona Revised Statutes (A.R.S.) § 20-259.01(H) (2017). Hanfelder timely appealed following the entry of final judgment. We have jurisdiction pursuant to A.R.S. § 12-2101(A)(1) (2018).

         DISCUSSION

         ¶5 We review de novo whether summary judgment is warranted, including whether genuine issues of material fact exist and whether the trial court properly applied the law. Dreamland Villa Cmty. Club, Inc. v. Raimey, 224 Ariz. 42, 46, ¶ 16 (App. 2010). We construe all facts in favor of Hanfelder, the party against whom summary judgment was granted. Twin City Fire Ins. Co. v. Leija, 243 Ariz. 175, 182, ¶ 25 (App. 2017).

         I.The Amendment Did Not Exclude UIM Coverage Under the ...


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