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Geico Ins. Co. v. Bernheim

Supreme Court of Vermont

August 30, 2013

GEICO Insurance Company
v.
Thomas Bernheim and Nancy Bernheim

Page 401

Editorial Note:

This Opinion is subject to motion for reargument or formal revision before publication. See V.R.A.P. 40

On Appeal from Superior Court, Rutland Unit, Civil Division. Mary Miles Teachout, J.

Reversed and remanded for a redetermination of the amount of reimbursement; affirmed as to all other points.

Antonin Robbason of Miller Faignant & Robbason, P.C., Rutland, for Plaintiff-Appellee.

Tom Bernheim and Nancy Bernheim, Pro ses, Essex Junction, Defendants-Appellants.

Present: Reiber, C.J., Dooley, Skoglund, Burgess and Robinson, JJ.

OPINION

Page 402

Dooley, J.

[¶ 1] Defendants, Nancy and Thomas Bernheim, appeal the trial court's summary judgment decision granting plaintiff GEICO Insurance Company's claim against them for reimbursement of $10,000 that GEICO had paid defendants under the medical-payments provision of their automobile insurance policy. Although we agree with the trial court that defendants must reimburse GEICO, we reverse and remand for a determination of the proper reimbursement amount.

[¶ 2] The facts related to this appeal are not in dispute and can be summarized as follows. Defendants were, at the time of the events leading to this case, insured by GEICO under an automobile insurance policy. On July 23, 2007, defendant Nancy Bernheim was involved in a collision with another car driven by an operator who was insured by Liberty Mutual.[1] As a result of the collision, defendant sustained injuries, and GEICO paid her $10,000 (the policy limit) under the medical-payments provision of defendants' policy.

[¶ 3] The insurance policy included the following clause:

When we make a payment under this coverage, we will be subrogated (to the extent of payment made by us) to the rights of recovery the injured person or anyone receiving the payments may have against any person or organization. Such person will do whatever is necessary to secure our rights and will do nothing to prejudice them.

[¶ 4] On October 9, 2007, GEICO notified Liberty Mutual of GEICO's subrogation rights related to the payment it had made to defendants. In August 2008, defendants entered into a settlement with Liberty Mutual for $30,000 with regard to all claims. That settlement stated that it was " inclusive of any liens, including but not limited to ...


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