In the case of Bransfield v. New Jersey Manufacturers Ins. Co., 2017 WL 714036 (E.D. Pa. 2/23/2017) (mem.), the Eastern Federal District Court declined to exercise jurisdiction over an unsettled Sackett-type issue and remanded the case back to state court for a decision.
Bransfield, the Plaintiffs filed
declaratory judgment action in state court asserting that the insurer owed
stacked UIM coverage because when the insured/owner added a vehicle to her
single-vehicle auto policy, her insurer was required to obtain new UIM coverage
forms and new UIM stacking rejection forms.
According to the Opinion, the insured had rejected UM/UIM and stacking
prior to the addition of the second vehicle.
Plaintiff asserted that since the insurer did not secure new UIM coverage forms
or new UIM stacking rejection forms, the Plaintiff should be entitled to
stacked UIM coverage.
Bransfield court declined to exercise
jurisdiction after finding that, if it did, the court would need to make a
threshold determination on an unsettled question of whether the MVFRL requires
new UIM rejection forms when new vehicles are added to a policy.
court noted that it would have to predict whether stacked UIM is available
pursuant to Sackett, which the court
noted was an issue before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in Toner v. The Travelers Home and Marine Ins.
Co., 137 A.3d 583(Pa. Super. 2016), appeal
granted No. 29 WAP 2016 (Pa. Sept. 8, 2016). Part of the reason the Bransfield court declined to decide the issue was to avoid a
scenario where its decision could end up conflicting with how the Pennsylvania
Supreme Court may ultimately rule upon the issue in Toner.
the Branfield court denied the
carrier’s request to reconsider the court’s prior Order remanding the matter
back to state court.
Anyone wishing to review this unpublished memorandum opinion in Bransfield may click this LINK.
send thanks to Attorney Scott Cooper of the Harrisburg, PA law firm of Schmidt
Kramer for bringing this case to my attention.