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AGENCY BY RATIFICATION

STATE FARM MUTUAL AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE COMPANY v. STEPHANIE B. WEISMAN PROCEDURAL POSTURE: Defendant insurer appealed the decision of the Circuit Court of Montgomery County (Virginia) in a declaratory action ruling that plaintiff was entitled to the higher liability limits imposed under Va. Code Ann. 38.22206 because a proper rejection form had not been executed declining the higher limits. OVERVIEW: Plaintiff filed a declaratory judgment action against defendant insurer seeking a ruling that insurer was obligated to provide her with additional uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance coverage. The action arose from injuries sustained by plaintiff as a result of an accident with an underinsured motorist. Plaintiff's parents (husband and wife) carried the policy and insurer contended that the added coverage had been rejected by parents. All declaration pages sent to parents contained the same liability limits, and when an automobile was previously added to the policy, husband signed a form rejecting the higher uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage limits; however, wife did not sign the form. The court returned judgment for plaintiff finding that the added coverage had not been properly rejected. On appeal, the court affirmed upon a conclusion that Va. Code Ann. 38.2-2206 required that the form be signed by each named insured for it to accomplish a proper rejection of the higher liability limits imposed by law. Therefore, both husband and wife were required to execute the form in order for the rejection to be considered valid. OUTCOME: Ruling that plaintiff daughter of insured parents could take advantage of higher liability limits for underinsured motorist coverage affirmed. Defendant insurer did not prove a proper rejection of liability limits because only insured husband had signed the rejection form, not insured wife which did not satisfy mandate that each named insured must sign the form for it to accomplish a rejection of the higher liability limits imposed by law.

Carl F. Dudley, Plaintiff-Respondent, v. John T. Dumont, Jr., Defendant-Appellant PROCEDURAL POSTURE: Defendant owner of an insurance agency appealed the judgment of the Circuit Court of St. Louis County, Missouri, which overruled defendant's motion for a directed verdict and entered judgment in plaintiff's favor following a jury trial in plaintiff's suit against defendant for fraudulent misrepresentation. OVERVIEW: Plaintiff sued defendant owner of an insurance agency, alleging that defendant or his alleged agent, with whom plaintiff directly dealt, intentionally misrepresented the effective date of an automobile liability insurance policy and that plaintiff relied on the misrepresentation to his detriment. Unsuccessfully moving for a directed verdict, defendant argued that the alleged agent was not his agent, and that he was therefore not liable for his misrepresentations. The court reversed, holding that plaintiff failed to prove any relationship between defendant and the alleged agent based on any agency theory that would support a finding that the alleged agent's representations to plaintiff were binding on defendant. In particular, the mere fact that the alleged agent possessed and used defendant's receipt forms did not in itself establish apparent or implied agency where the evidence suggested that the alleged agent acted more as plaintiff's broker than defendant's sales agent. OUTCOME: The court reversed the judgment in plaintiff's favor since the trial court should have granted defendant's motion for a directed verdict where plaintiff failed in his burden of establishing the existence of an agency relationship.

BARRS v. ACREE et al. PROCEDURAL POSTURE: Plaintiff landowners brought a negligence action against defendants, their neighbor and his brother-in-law, seeking damages resulting from a fire on the neighbor's property. The neighbor moved for summary judgment, contending that a corporation owned the land and also employed the brother-in-law. The trial court (Georgia) granted the motion and denied the landowners' motion to substitute the corporation. The landowners appealed. OVERVIEW: The landowners' property was damaged when a controlled burn conducted by the brother-in-law turned into an uncontrolled burn. The landowners contended that the brother-in-law held himself out as the neighbor's agent based on the brother-in-law's former employment with the neighbor and the neighbor's ratification of the brother-in-law's actions by writing to the landowners and offering to pay for the damage. The court held that there was no evidence establishing an actual agency relationship between the neighbor and his brotherin-law, who was employed by the corporation, under O.C.G.A. 10-6-1, and therefore the neighbor was not liable under O.C.G.A. 51-2-1(a). The neighbor had no right to control the time and manner of the burn. Proof of the brother-inlaw's past employment by the neighbor did not support an implied agency; nor did the neighbor's letters expressing regret and offering to pay for the damage. Denial of the landowners' motion to substitute was proper under O.C.G.A. 9-1115(c) because the landowners had been aware of the corporation's existence and its potential liability for almost five years before seeking to amend, and the statute of limitations had run. PROCEDURAL POSTURE: Defendant owner of an insurance agency appealed the judgment of the Circuit Court of St. Louis County, Missouri, which overruled defendant's motion for a directed verdict and entered judgment in plaintiff's favor following a jury trial in plaintiff's suit against defendant for fraudulent misrepresentation.