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Wright v. Turner

Summarized by: 

Date Filed: 10-24-2012
Case #: A144126
Haselton, C.J. for the Court; Armstrong, P.J.; and Duncan, J.
Full Text Opinion: http://www.publications.ojd.state.or.us/docs/A144126.pdf

Insurance Law: A plaintiff who seeks insurance benefits claiming two accidents has the burden of presenting at least prima facie evidence of both accidents and that the two collisions had distinctly different causes; the second accident cannot be a proximate result of the first.

Enumclaw Insurance Company/Turner appealed a judgment in favor of Wright who was involved in an automobile accident involving two other cars and successfully brought suit seeking Underinsured Motorist benefits from the defendant in the amount of $1,000,000. The relevant insurance policy limited such benefits to $500,000 per accident. Enumclaw objected that only one accident had occurred, but the trial court held that Enumclaw had either waived the argument, or alternatively, was estopped from arguing it because it was inconsistent with their first, but not amended, answer. As such, the trial court limited liability to $1,000,000. Enumclaw appealed, arguing that the court erred by failing to limit liability to $500,000. The Court of Appeals stated that under Oregon law, the plaintiff bears the burden of presenting evidence of two accidents, as opposed to one. At a minimum, prima facie evidence must be presented that there were two collisions that had distinctly different causes; the second cannot be a proximate result of the first. The Court held that Wright failed to present evidence of two accidents, so there was only one accident as a matter of law, limiting liability to $500,000. Reversed and remanded with instruction to apply $500,000 limit of liability to judgment in plaintiff's favor.