Kim Schaefer V. Carl & Craig Winters & State Farm Case Numbers: 2:14-CV-4149 & 2:13-CV-04212

Personal Injury

Kim Schaefer (43) was injured on August 1, 2013 when she was hit by a drunk driver, Craig Winters (49) at approximately 6:00 p.m. Kim was driving westbound on Old Highway 40 when Winters attempted to make a left turn and turned immediately in front of Kim thereby causing a collision. Kim was transported by ambulance to the University Hospital.

As a result of the collision, Kim suffered from a stroke in addition to the following fractures: left femur, left knee, left hand, left forearm, right tibia, right foot, right ankle, and neck. She also suffered from a dislocated right knee, a lesion on her liver, stomach bleeding, severe back pain and problems with her jaw. Kim was initially hospitalized for one month before returning for additional surgeries. Between her hospital stays, Kim received months of therapy from Rusk Rehabilitation and home health care services. Due to her inability to work, Kim had substantial lost wages.

Kim’s family hired Ron Netemeyer with Harper, Evans, Wade & Netemeyer out of Columbia, Missouri while Kim was still in the hospital. The law firm determined that Winters had been driving his father’s vehicle at the time of the collision. Further investigation revealed that Winters no longer lived in the United States and had moved to Mexico. As a result, the firm moved quickly and a filed a suit in Missouri state court naming Craig and his father Carl. The theories of liability were negligence and negligent entrustment. However, since the father was resident of Kansas, and Craig lived in Mexico, the defendants removed the case to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri under the theory of diversity jurisdiction.

A federal judge ordered the parties to mediate the case. Before the mediation, the applicable State Farm Insurance polices were disclosed and provided that Craig Winters had a $1,000,000.00 liability policy and that his father, Carl Winters, had $100,000.00 on the vehicle that Craig was driving, and also owned another vehicle with limits of $250,000.00.

State Farm’s position was that Craig Winters, age 49 and retired dentist, was a “resident relative” with his father, Carl Winters, and the time of the accident. As such, they believed that under this language of their policy, the $100,000.00 liability coverage was not available to Kim. The parties agreed to settle the claim for the amount of $1,250,000.00 with the caveat that State Farm would file a Declaratory Judgment action with regard to whether or not the $100,000.00 applied to this case. As such, the Declaratory action was filed in federal court. That issue is still pending litigation.

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