American Family Mutual Insurance Co. v. Coke

358 S.W.3d 576 (2012)

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American Family Mutual Insurance Co. v. Coke

Missouri Court of Appeals
358 S.W.3d 576 (2012)

  • Written by Sheryl McGrath, JD

Facts

Pamela Coke (Coke) and Ward Ferrell (Ferrell) (collectively, defendants) bought a motor home (RV) in February 2008. After their purchase, the RV’s title was in the name of Toy Hon USA, which was a business that Ferrell owned. However, Coke and Ferrell (rather than the business) paid the insurance premiums on the RV. Coke and Ferrell bought the insurance contract from American Family Mutual Insurance Co. (American Family) (plaintiff), with whom they had other insurance contracts for other property. Between February 2008 and late November 2008, Coke and Ferrell drove the RV throughout the United States. During that time, Coke and Ferrell spent about $13,000 on maintenance, repairs, and a warranty for the RV. In addition, Coke and Ferrell spent more than $4,000 to construct a building in which to store the RV on land owned in Alabama. Coke and Ferrell lived in the RV while building a house on their Alabama land. In November 2008, Coke and Ferrell drove the RV to Arizona. Ferrell flew back, and Coke continued to use the RV in Arizona. While Coke was driving the RV, she thought there might be a problem with the brakes. Coke heard a hissing sound and parked the RV on the shoulder of the road to check the sound. Coke got out of the RV, and then the RV rolled into a ravine. Coke and Ferrell submitted an insurance claim on the RV. American Family filed a declaratory-judgment action to resolve coverage under the RV insurance contract. Coke and Ferrell filed a counterclaim alleging breach of the insurance contract and other claims. The case went to trial. At the close of the evidence, American Family sought a directed verdict on the counterclaim, arguing that Coke and Ferrell were not the real parties in interest to enforce the insurance contract because they had no title to the RV. The trial court granted the directed verdict for American Family. Coke and Ferrell appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Sullivan, J.)

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