Garnishment of Insurance Proceeds In Missouri

The use of garnishment to reach the proceeds of an insurance policy has a long history in Missouri. An older case noting the practice is Pickering v. Hartsock, 221 Mo. App. 868, 287 S.W. 819 (Mo. App. 1926). See also Gates v. Tusten, 89 Mo. 13, 14 S.W. 827 (Mo. 1886); Skaggs v. Gotham Min. & Mill. Co., 208 Mo. App. 596, 235 S.W. 511 (Mo. App. 1921); Cavanaugh v. Dyer, 215 S.W. 481 (Mo. App. 1919). As noted in Staggs, the viability of this remedy was considerably weakened by the recognition that the insurance contract could be written in such a way that the insurer had no liability to the insured until the judgment had been paid by the insured - a "no action" clause. To remedy the inability of a judgment creditor to garnish the insurance proceeds, the predecessor to section 379.200, which in relevant respects has not been changed, was adopted. Schott v. Continental Auto Ins. Underwriters, 326 Mo. 92, 102, 31 S.W.2d 7, 12 (Mo. 1930). The question then arose as to whether section 379.200 eliminated the garnishment remedy. "But it is held in several cases that that remedy is cumulative, and that recovery may also be had by garnishment of the insurer under the judgment against the insured. Taverno v. American Auto. Ins. Co., 232 Mo. App. 820, 824-825(2), 112 S.W.2d 941, 944(2); Lajoie v. Central West Casualty Co., 228 Mo. App. 701, 710(1), 71 S.W.2d 803, 809(1)." State ex rel. Anderson v. Dinwiddie, 359 Mo. 980, 984, 224 S.W.2d 985, 987 (Mo. 1949). See also Lancaster v. American and Foreign Insurance Company, 272 F.3d 1059 (8th Cir. 2001)(decided 2001). Zink and Wood v. Metropolitan Property & Cas.,10 S.W.3d 571, 573 (Mo. App. 2000), have clouded the conclusion noted in Dinwiddie. To the extent these cases suggest or hold that a garnishment action under chapter 525 is not available to garnish an insurance policy after a judgment is entered against a defendant who may have insurance coverage, they are overruled.