October 3, 2018
From Anderson County J. Cordell Maddox, Jr., Circuit Court
Robert Murphy and Wesley Brian Sawyer, both of Murphy &
Grantland, PA, of Columbia, for Appellant.
Kirkman Moorhead, of Krause Moorhead & Draisen, PA, of
Anderson, for Respondent Randi Harper.
Milford Oliver Howard, III, of Howard Law Firm, P.A. of
Greenville, for Respondent Wendy Timms.
Michael F. Mullinax, of Mullinax Law Firm, P.A., of Anderson,
for Respondent Sharmin Christine Walls.
a police chase that ended in a deadly single-car accident,
Nationwide Mutual Fire Insurance Company brought a
declaratory judgment action against Sharmin Walls, Randi
Harper, and the estate of Christopher Timms (collectively,
Respondents) to determine the amount due under an automobile
liability policy. The trial court found Nationwide must
provide the policy's maximum coverage of $300, 000,
despite policy exclusions that reduced coverage to the
statutory minimum limit of $50, 000 per occurrence when an
accident occurred while committing a felony or fleeing law
enforcement. On appeal, Nationwide argues the trial court
erred in finding the exclusions violated public policy and
were therefore unenforceable. We reverse.
facts of this case are not in dispute. On July 11, 2008,
Respondents were passengers in a vehicle owned by Walls and
being driven by Korey Mayfield. When a state highway patrol
officer attempted to stop the vehicle for speeding, Mayfield
ignored the passengers' request to pull over and instead
accelerated down the highway. Mayfield led the officer on a
high-speed chase-at one point reaching a speed of 109 miles
per hour-before exiting the highway and speeding down a
residential road. The officer then terminated his pursuit.
Approximately one mile from where the chase ended, however,
Mayfield lost control of the vehicle and crashed into a group
of trees. Timms was killed in the collision, while
Mayfield, Harper, and Walls suffered catastrophic injuries.
Mayfield was ultimately charged with and pled guilty to
reckless homicide, a felony.
time of the crash, Walls was a named insured on a Nationwide
insurance policy with liability coverage of $100, 000 per
person and $300, 000 per accident. With respect to the
liability coverage, the policy contained the following
This coverage does not apply, with regard to any amount above
the minimum limits required by the South Carolina Financial
Responsibility Law [(MVFRA)] as of the date of the loss, to:
6. Bodily injury or property damage caused by:
b) a relative; ...