Lyons v. Direct General Insurance Company of Mississippi

Machon Lyons suffered severe injuries as the result of an automobile accident. The accident occurred when a vehicle operated by Roderick Holliday left the road and collided with a tree. As a result, Lyons obtained a default judgment of $72,500 against Holliday. Holliday's mother, Daisy Lang, insured the vehicle through Direct General Insurance Company of Mississippi. Lang's policy included a provision specifically excluding Holliday from any coverage under the policy. Accordingly, Direct denied coverage for the judgment. Lyons sought a declaratory judgment, asking the Circuit Court to hold that Lang's policy covered the judgment against Holliday. Lyons acknowledged the policy exclusion, but argued that Lang's policy covered the judgment against Holliday because Mississippi law required minimum-liability coverage for all permissive drivers, and because Lang's insurance card failed to mention any permissive-driver exclusions. The circuit court granted summary judgment in favor of Direct, finding that the policy clearly and specifically excluded coverage of Holliday. The Court of Appeals reversed, finding that 63-15-4(2)(a) required liability insurance for all vehicles operated in Mississippi and that Mississippi Code Section 63-15-43 required that the liability insurance policy "pay on behalf of the named insured and any other person, as insured, using any such motor vehicle or motor vehicles with the express or implied permission of such named insured." Although the Court of Appeals reached the right result, it cited as its authority the incorrect statute, so the Supreme Court granted certiorari. The Court concluded the policy exclusion violated Mississippi law: even though Holliday was an excluded driver under the Direct General policy issued to Daisy Lang, the exclusion did not operate to eliminate liability coverage in the minimum amounts required by statute. The trial court's grant of summary judgment was reversed and the case remanded for further proceedings. View "Lyons v. Direct General Insurance Company of Mississippi " on Justia Law