United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Columbia Division
CECILE RUSSELL, as Personal Representative of the Estate of Kelsey Harris, deceased; WILLIAM P. PIPP, as Personal Representative of the Estate of Melinda Sue Pipp, deceased; and WENDY S. FUESS, as Personal Representative of the Estate of Billings S. Fuess, IV, deceased, Plaintiffs,
Evelyn McGrath as Personal Representative of the Estate of BRIAN M. McGRATH and LIBERTY MUTUAL INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendants
Cecile Russell, as Personal Representative of the Estate of
Kelsey Harris, deceased, personal representative, Kelsey
Harris, Plaintiff: Alan David Toporek, Jeffrey Wayne Buncher,
Jr, LEAD ATTORNEYS, Uricchio Howe Krell Jacobson Toporek
Theos and Keith, Charleston, SC.
William P Pipp, as Personal Representative of the Estate of
Melinda Sue Pipp, deceased, personal representative, Melinda
Sue Pipp, Wendy S Fuess, as Personal Representative of the
Estate of Billings S. Fuess, IV, deceased, personal
representative, Billings S Fuess, IV, Plaintiffs: Robert B
Ransom, LEAD ATTORNEY, Leventis and Ransom, Columbia, SC.
Liberty Mutual Insurance Company, Evelyn McGrath, as Personal
Representative of the Estate of Brian M McGrath, Estate of,
Brian M McGrath, Defendants: Morgan S Templeton, LEAD
ATTORNEY, Charleston, SC.
F. Anderson, Jr., United States District Judge.
matter comes before the Court on the parties' cross
motions for summary judgment. Plaintiff's decedents,
Kelsey Harris, Melinda Sue Pipp, and Billings S. Fuess, IV,
were killed in an automobile accident in Columbia, South
Carolina on January 18, 2012. Plaintiffs seek to recover
underinsured motorist (" UIM" ) coverage from
Defendant Liberty Mutual Insurance Company ("
Liberty" ) under an automobile insurance policy sold to
Evelyn McGrath (" Evelyn" ), the mother of
Defendant Brian M. McGrath (" Brian" ).
parties agree that the dispositive issue in this case is
whether the policy is governed by Florida or South Carolina
law. If Florida law governs the policy, Plaintiffs are
entitled to nothing. If South Carolina law applies,
Plaintiffs are entitled to $500,000.
parties have fully briefed their motions, and on September
21, 2015, this Court heard oral arguments. For the reasons
discussed below, this Court holds that the policy is governed
by Florida law and that Plaintiffs are entitled to nothing
further under the policy. Accordingly, Plaintiffs' Motion
for Summary Judgment is denied, and Defendant's Motion
for Summary Judgment is granted.
Factual Background and Procedural History
lawsuit arises out of a tragic automobile accident that
claimed the lives of
four young adults in Columbia, South Carolina. On January 18,
2012, Brian was driving his 2006 Dodge sedan, insured by
Liberty with Plaintiffs' decedents as his three
passengers. Brian lost control of the vehicle and crashed. As
a result, all four occupants died.
began attending the University of South Carolina in August
2007. During his freshman year, he lived in the dormitory on
campus without a vehicle. During the 2008/2009 school year,
Brian lived in an apartment across from the campus with
roommates. During the summer of 2009, he attended summer
school at Queens College in New York and lived in
Connecticut. During the 2009/2010 school year, Brian returned
to Columbia and resided at the Woodlands apartments with
roommates. During the summer of 2010, Brian again went north
to attend summer school at Sacred Heart College in Fairfield,
Connecticut where he lived at home.
the 2010/2011 school year, his third year at USC, Brian lived
at the Carolina Walk condominiums as a renter. During the
summer of 2011, Brian worked in Connecticut as an intern at a
law firm and lived at home. During the 2011/2012 school year,
as a senior, Brian continued to live at the Carolina Walk
condominiums until his death on January 18, 2012. Brian would
have graduated in May of 2012.
2008, during Brian's sophomore year, his parents
purchased a second home in Florida. At the time, they also
purchased the Dodge sedan for Brian. They purchased the
vehicle in Florida from a Florida dealer. The vehicle was
registered in the state of Florida with a Florida license
plate. Evelyn paid taxes on the vehicle in the state of
Florida. The Liberty policy was sold to Evelyn, the named
insured, through a Florida sales ...