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Carrier Refused Coverage Under ‘Bobtailing’ Policy

$1.36 Million Judgment

15 M.L.W.649, June 04, 2001

In 1998 Michael Carmody was killed when his car collided with a tractor-trailer truck on Route H in Dent County. Donna Carmody, his wife, was a passenger and was seriously injured, suffering a closed head injury, two broken legs and severe scarring.

The truck driver, employed by S&H Transportation, was “bobtailing” at the time of the accident that is, he was driving the tractor without a trailer. S&H Transportation had trucking and bobtailing coverage on the truck through St. Paul Fire and Marine Insurance Company.

Donna Carmody sued S&H Transportation and the driver for her personal injuries and for the wrongful death of her husband. The wrongful death case settled for $1 million, the policy limits under the bobtailing policy.

But St. Paul denied coverage for Donna’s injuries, arguing that the trucking policy did not apply since the truck did not have a trailer. Donna won a $2,361,000 judgment on her claim in St. Louis City Circuit Court in May 2000.

St. Paul then filed a declaratory judgment action in federal court and Carmody counterclaimed for equitable garnishment. The parties each filed motions for summary judgment. The court granted Carmody’s motions and entered a judgment of $1,361,000, representing policy limits of $1 million and $361,000 in interest.

Disclaimer: Past results afford no guarantee of future results. Every case is different and must be judged on its own merits.