Gregory J. Lammert, ET Al. v. Auto-Owners (Mutual) Insurance Company

Gregory J. Lammert, ET Al. v. Auto-Owners (Mutual) Insurance Company
M2017-02546-SC-R23-CV

The United States District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee has submitted a certified question of law pursuant to Tennessee Supreme Court Rule 23 regarding the interpretation of two insurance policies: “Under Tennessee law, may an insurer in making an actual cash value payment withhold a portion of repair labor as depreciation when the policy (1) defines actual cash value as ‘the cost to replace damaged property with new property of similar quality and features reduced by the amount of depreciation applicable to the damaged property immediately prior to the loss,’ or (2) states that ‘actual cash value includes a deduction for depreciation?”’ Based on Tennessee law regarding the interpretation of insurance contracts, we conclude that the language in the policies is ambiguous and must be construed in favor of the insured parties. Therefore, we answer the district court’s question in the negative: The insurer may not withhold a portion of repair labor as depreciation.

Authoring Judge: 
Justice Roger A. Page
Originating Judge: 
Chief Judge Waverly D. Crenshaw, Jr.
Date Filed: 
Monday, April 15, 2019