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Drinkwater v. American Family Mutual Insurance Company

714 N.W.2d 642 (2006)

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Drinkwater v. American Family Mutual Insurance Company

Wisconsin Supreme Court

714 N.W.2d 642 (2006)

Facts

Shane Drinkwater (plaintiff) was a Wisconsin resident who worked at a company in Iowa. Drinkwater was severely injured in Wisconsin when another Wisconsin driver hit him. The other driver was insured up to $250,000 by a Wisconsin insurance company. Drinkwater’s medical expenses were paid by Medical Insurance Health Plan, Inc. (the plan) (defendant), an Iowa corporation that had an insurance contract with Drinkwater’s employer. The insurance contract, issued in Iowa, stated that the contract was to be governed by the laws of Iowa. The insurance contract further provided that if a covered member recovered benefits for his or her injuries from a third party, the benefits would be subrogated to the plan. Under Iowa law, the plan was entitled to payment in full for its subrogated expenses before Drinkwater recovered any damages. Wisconsin law was the opposite—Drinkwater would be fully compensated first. Drinkwater sued the driver, the driver’s insurer, and the plan in Wisconsin state court. The plan responded with a subrogation claim. The trial court applied Wisconsin law and found that the driver’s insurance payment of $250,000 should go to Drinkwater and, because it did not fully compensate Drinkwater, he did not need to pay any of the funds to the plan. The plan appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Bradley, J.)

Dissent (Prosser, J.)

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