JERRY GARRISON ET AL. v. RITA BICKFORD ET AL. - Articles

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Posted by: Tanja Trezise on Aug 22, 2012

Court: TN Supreme Court

Attorneys 1:

Joseph H. Crabtree, Jr., Athens, Tennessee, for the appellants, Jerry Garrison and Martha Garrison.

Attorneys 2:

Joseph B. Klockenkemper, II, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellee, State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company.

Judge(s): CLARK

Following an accident which claimed the life of their teenage son, the deceased’s parents filed claims for wrongful death and negligent infliction of emotional distress against the driver and owner of the car that struck their son. The parents also sought to recover from their own insurance company under the uninsured motorist provisions of their policy. The driver of the car settled, paying the deceased’s parents $25,000 for their wrongful death claim and $25,000 for their negligent infliction of emotional distress claim. The parents’ insurer paid them an additional $75,000 for the wrongful death claim but refused to pay any damages for their emotional injuries. The insurer contended that (1) emotional distress did not constitute “bodily injury” as defined in the policy, and (2) the “Each Person” limit in the policy had been met, thereby exhausting any available coverage. The parents maintained that recovery for emotional harm was not precluded under the policy definition of “bodily injury” and that the “Each Person” limit had not been met. The trial court agreed with the parents and ruled in favor of coverage. The Court of Appeals reversed. We granted the parents’ application for permission to appeal to decide whether “bodily injury” as defined in the policy includes mental injuries standing alone. It does not. The judgment of the Court of Appeals is affirmed.

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