JACKSON, Miss. (Legal Newsline) – A couple have lost their appeal to the Mississippi Supreme Court against two insurance companies in an attempt to assert rights to additional payments in a loss-of-consortium suit.
The justices ruled March 9 the insurance companies had fulfilled their obligations as per the policies’
filed by plaintiffs Richard and Beth Rylee, argued against a Jones County Circuit Court ruling that
Rylee was not entitled to any additional payments in a derivative
loss-of-consortium claim, stating the claim was included in the defendant’s previous
payment. The Mississippi Supreme Court justices found their argument was without merit under the policies’
clear language and legal precedents.
court documents, the Rylees owned auto insurance policies through two separate
financial service companies, Progressive Gulf and USAA Casualty. On Jan. 19,
Rylee was injured in a motorcycle accident with another motorist,
Jessica Brashier, in Laurel, Mississippi. The accident prompted three insurance
policies, Brashier’s, who was covered by State Farm with a liability up to
Rylee’s, through USAA and Progressive Gulf.
Both of the Rylees’
policies provided the same types and amounts of coverage, $25,000
per-person with a $50,000 per-accident limit with uninsured motorist coverage.
Progressive Gulf was considered the primary insurer covering his motorcycle with
USAA covering the Rylees’ two other vehicles.
USAA had tendered
$50,000 in uninsured motorist coverage and State Farm, the $25,000 per person
Richard Rylee. But Progressive Gulf had denied their claim since Brashier’s
insurer State Farm had paid $25,000 in liability.
The Rylees filed separate loss-of-consortium suits on behalf of Beth Rylee against
Brashier, Progressive, and USAA claiming Beth Rylee should receive additional
payment due to her husband's injuries. Progressive and USAA requested motions of
summary judgments arguing the loss-of-consortium claim had already been
tendered from USAA and $25,000 State Farm policy limit for “each person”
injured in the accident. The defendants’ suits were consolidated and their
motions granted. The court found in favor of the insurers, leaving the plaintiffs
an option to appeal.
On appeal, justices
William L. Waller Jr., James W. Kitchens and James D. Maxwell II upheld the original court ruling after reviewing
the individual policies. Both policies contained provisions which would allow derivative
claims exceeding the “each person” limit only in the event of more than one person
sustaining bodily injury.
Moreover, the cases the Rylees cited in their appeal
had not considered the “each person” policy limits, according to the justices.