Underinsured Motorist Claim dismissed as untimely
Mary Aastad was badly hurt in a car wreck caused by Harvey Edwards. Edwards' SUV carried only $50,000.00 in liability coverage, but Aastad had purchased Underinsured Motorist Coverage (UIM) through AutoOwners Insurance and thus believed she would be fully compensated for her injuries. While pursuing the claim against Edwards to a stipulated judgment for his full coverage in January of 2009, Aastad negotiated unsuccessfully with AutoOwners for the payment of additional coverage. She then filed suit, now four years after the date of the original injury.AutoOwners immediately sought summary disposition, pointing to the three-year limitation period in its UIM contract. Aastad argued that AutoOwners should be "equitably estopped" from enforcing the three-year limitation period because it (allegedly) had induced Aastad to delay filing while continuing negotiations during the pendency of the Edwards litigation. The Court of Appeals noted that regardless of what was said during negotiations, AutoOwners had responded to early correspondence with Aastad's attorney and clearly stated the three-year limitation. In this situation, the Court held that equitable estoppel will not be applied to extend a contractual statute of limitations.