Madison - St. Clair Record

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Motorist demands insurance company abide by contract following crash, charges unreasonable delay

State Court

By John Breslin | Nov 4, 2019


BELLEVILLE - A car owner involved in a crash allegedly caused by an under insured motorist is demanding her insurance company pay out the full $250,000 she believes is owed on the policy.

Kimberly Rhodes filed suit against Auto-Owners Insurance for breach of contract, and accuses the company of being "unreasonable and vexatious" in delaying payment.

Rhodes claims to have racked up medical costs and lost wages totaling more than $500,000, but claims her insurance company is withholding payment because she had another policy. 

The suit, filed Oct. 18 in St. Clair County Circuit Court, has its roots in an Oct. 21, 2017, collision that involved another car crashing into the plaintiffs. The other driver was found to be "at-fault," according to the filing.

However, the driver was an under insured motorist (UIM) with bodily injury limits of $100,000 per person and $300,000 per accident. According to the complaint, the driver caused the crash by driving too fast, failing to keep a proper lookout, failing to stay in lane, and was allegedly under the influence of alcohol.

Rhodes states in her complaint that she suffered "numerous serious and permanent personal injuries and damages" that "required medical care and incurred medical bills and other expenses as  a result thereof all in a sum in excess of $500,000.00."

Her Auto-Owners policy provided UIM coverage of $250,000 per person and $500,000 per accident. She also had a policy with the Hanover Insurance Group, which included UIM coverage of $100,000 and $300,000 for any accident.

Rhodes has refused the policy-limit offer of $100,000 from the other driver's insurance company because there is a "pending action against the at-fault driver and various dram shop defendants."

According to the complaint, the plaintiff and defendant had a back and forth that included a refusal by the latter to engage in arbitration and an offer of $150,000, which Auto-Owners calculated using the "off-set" of the second insurance policy, which was already denied. This was the only argument provided by Auto-Owners, the complaint claims.

"Defendant's failure and refusal to offer Plaintiff its $250,000.00 policy limits has resulted in..breach of its contractual duties to Plaintiff," the complaint argues, adding that Rhodes wants judgment in the amount of $250,000, attorneys fees and costs, all penalties available for "vexatious and unreasonable" delays, and all other relief amounting to over $50,000.

Rhodes is represented by Alan G. Pirtle and Eli Roberts of Brown & Crouppen of St. Louis.

St. Clair County Circuit Court case number 2019-L- 0731.

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