Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Pennsylvania Superior Court Upholds Exclusion of Coverage for Resident Non-Family Members Not Listed On Auto Policy

In the case of Safe Auto Insurance v. Oriental-Guillermo, 2017 Pa. Super. 297 (Pa. Super. Sept. 18, 2017) (Dubow, J., Solano, J., and Ford Elliot, P.J.E) (Majority Op. by Dubow, J.) (Dissenting Op. by Ford Elliot, P.J.E.), the Pennsylvania Superior Court ruled that a automobile insurance policy issued by Safe Auto that excluded coverage for non-family members who live with the vehicle owner but who were not specifically included under the policy is enforceable under Pennsylvania’s Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility Law.  

The panel essentially ruled that the policy was consistent with the MVFRL because that statute places the burden of making sure a driver is insured on the vehicle owner, and not upon the insurance companies.

The court rejected the Plaintiff’s argument that Safe Auto’s provision violated the mandate of the MVFRL of having an owner ensure that all drivers are covered by insurance.   The court noted that the MVFRL does not require a shifting of the burden to the insurance companies to discover the identities of resident, non-family member insureds who may have access to an insured’s vehicle.  
Rather, the court felt that that burden was more appropriately placed in the hands of the insured.  
The Majority Opinion written by Judge Dubow can be viewed HERE.

The Dissenting Opinion by Judge Ford Elliott can be viewed HERE.

Source: Article “Superior Court Rules Unlisted Resident Driver Exclusion is Okay” by Max Mitchell. The Legal Intelligencer (September 22, 2017).  

Monday, October 16, 2017

Current Law of Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress Claim Reviewed

In his recent decision in the case of Nehme v. Churla, 2017 W.L. 4124460 (C.P. Lacka. Co. Sept. 8, 2017 Nealon, J.), Judge Terrence R. Nealon of the Lackawanna County Court of Common Pleas addressed the current status of the requirements of a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress under Pennsylvania law.
The issue arose in a case in which a Plaintiff commenced an action against his former paramour seeking the repayment of money he loaned to the Defendant during the pendency of her divorce proceedings against her ex-husband.  The Plaintiff also sought the return of an engagement ring.  
According to the Opinion, the Defendant asserted a counterclaim for intentional infliction of emotional distress. The Plaintiff filed a demurrer to that claim on the grounds of legal insufficiency.  
After reviewing the current status of the law of intentional infliction of emotional distress in Pennsylvania as applied against the facts of the case, the court sustained the demurrer to the Defendant’s counterclaim. 

Anyone wishing to read this Opinion may click this LINK.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Pennsylvania Defense Institute Drafts Proposed Points for Charge for Products Liability Cases

Here is a LINK to a set of Products Liability Suggested Standard Jury Instructions drafted by members of the Products Liability Committee of the Pennsylvania Defense Institute and which has been published in the October, 2017 edition of Counterpoint, a PDI publication.   The Committee was led in this regard by William J. Ricci, Esquire, C. Scott Toomey, Esquire, and James M. Beck, Esquire.
These suggested instructions were drafted in response to the proposed instructions for products cases issued in the summer of 2016 by the civil instructions subcommittee of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court Committee for Proposed Standard Jury Instructions.
The debate over proper instructions for products cases arises out of the differing opinions as to the import and analysis of the Tincher v. Omega Flex case.

Bad Faith Statute Applies to Insurers Not Insurance Agents

In the case of Fertig v. Kelley, No. 16-CV-4801 (C.P. Lacka. Co. Sept. 27, 2017 Nealon, J.), Judge Terrence R. Nealon of the Lackawanna County Court of Common Pleas granted judgment on the pleadings in favor of an automobile insurance agent named as a party defendant in a Post-Koken bad faith suit.

The decision was based, in part, on the court's reaffirmation of the law providing that the bad faith statute under 42 Pa.C.S.A. Section 8371 only applies to an "insurer" and not an insurance agent.

To review this decision, click this LINK.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Personal Jurisdiction Issues Addressed by Third Circuit (Not Precedential)

In the case of Barth v. Walt Disney Parks & Resorts U.S., Inc., No. 16-3593 (3d Cir. Sept. 8, 2017 Hardiman, Chagares, and Jordan, J.J.) (Op. by Hardiman, J.)[marked "Not Precedential"], the Third Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s granting of a Motion to Dismiss the case against the Defendant where the court agreed that the Defendants were neither incorporated nor had any a principal place of business in Pennsylvania and were, therefore, not properly subject to general personal jurisdiction concerning an injury that took place in another state.

Anyone wishing to review a copy of this decision may click this LINK.

I send thanks to Attorney James M. Beck of the Reed Smith law office in Philadelphia for bring this case to my attention.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Trial Court Addresses Liability of Business for Car Accident on Adjoining Road After Patron Drives Off Premises

In its decision in the case of Zurick v. Basile Italian Delight Restaurant and Pizzeria, No. S-1571-2016 (C.P. Schuylkill Co. Miller, J.), the court denied Preliminary Objections filed by a landowner Defendant who asserted that it owed no duty to a Plaintiff injured in a motor vehicle accident that occurred after a vehicle left the parking lot area of the Defendant's restaurant and was involved in an accident with a vehicle on the adjoining roadway.  

The Defendant landowner had asserted that no duty was owned to the Plaintiff under the case of Newell v. Montana West, Inc., 154 A.3d 819 (Pa. Super. 2017), in which the Superior Court ruled, in a case of first impression, that a business does not have a duty to protect its invitees against the dangers associated with adjoining roadways.   The Newell case involved a pedestrian who was struck and killed by a car after he left a show at the defendant’s premises.

The court in Zurick limited the Newell holding to accidents involving pedestrians and ruled that the driveway immunity provisions of the Construction Code Act, 35 P.S. §7210 502 (b)(4)(1) and/or the Municipalities Planning Code, 53 P.S. §10508(6), give rise to a statutory duty upon landowner Defendants related to the creation of a driveway on its premises and/or the failure to maintain such driveway so as not to interfere with the safe travel on the abutting roadway.  

Anyone wishing to review a copy of this decision may click this LINK.