May 29, 2019
from Spartanburg County L. Casey Manning, Circuit Court
OF CERTIORARI TO THE COURT OF APPEALS
Charles Logan Rollins II, Hawkins Law Firm, of Spartanburg,
William Whelan, Charles R. Norris, of Charleston, and C.
Mitchell Brown, of Columbia, all of Nelson Mullins Riley
& Scarborough, LLP, for Respondent.
38-77-144 of the South Carolina Code (2015) provides that
no-fault personal injury protection (PIP) insurance coverage
"is not subject to a setoff." This appeal requires
us to consider whether section 38-77-144 prohibits an
automobile insurance carrier from reducing its obligation to
pay PIP benefits to its insured by the amount of workers'
compensation benefits the insured received for medical
expenses. We hold that it does.
Facts and Procedural History
Cothran incurred approximately $40, 000 in medical expenses
from injuries she received in an automobile accident. Her
employer's workers' compensation carrier paid all of
her medical expenses. She was also covered by her automobile
insurance policy issued to her and her husband Chris by State
Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company. The State Farm
policy provided PIP coverage with a limit of $5, 000.
However, State Farm refused to pay her any PIP benefits for
medical expenses based on a "Workers' Compensation
Coordination" provision in the policy. The
"Coordination" provision states,
Any Personal Injury Protection Coverage provided by this
policy applies as excess over any benefits recovered under
any workers' compensation law or any other similar law.
Cothrans filed this lawsuit against State Farm alleging
breach of contract and bad faith refusal to pay insurance
circuit court granted summary judgment to the Cothrans on the
breach of contract claim, finding the
"Coordination" provision violated section
38-77-144. The court of appeals reversed. Cothran v.
State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 421 S.C. 562, 808 S.E.2d
824 (Ct. App. 2017). We granted the Cothrans' petition
for a writ of certiorari. We reverse the court of appeals,
and reinstate the summary judgment.
begin with the text of section 38-77-144.
There is no personal injury protection (PIP) coverage
mandated under the automobile insurance laws of this State.
Any reference to personal injury protection in Title 38 or 56
or elsewhere is deleted. If an insurer sells no-fault
insurance coverage which provides personal injury protection,
medical payment coverage, or economic loss coverage, ...