Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Motion To Bifurcate Coverage Question From Post-Koken UM Case Granted in Part and Denied in Part in Lackawanna County

In the Post-Koken UM case of Caridad v. Caridad, No. 2014-CV-6070 (C.P. Lacka. Co. Nov. 19, 2019 Bisignani-Moyle, J.), Judge Margie Bisignani-Moyle of the Lackawanna County Court of Common Pleas addressed a defendant carrier's motion to bifurcate a trial.

In this case, the defendant carrier was asserting as a defense in this breach of contract UM claim that there was no coverage due to the Plaintiff because the Plaintiff was not a resident of the insured's household at the time of the accident. 

In addition to arguing that bifurcation was not warranted under the case presented and would not support the interests of judicial economy, the Plaintiff argued that a  separate declaratory judgment action on the issue of coverage had not been filed and that, therefore, the coverage action was not in issue in this matter.

The defense countered with the argument that there was no breach of contract as there was no coverage under the policy in the first place.

The Court granted the motion to bifurcate in part and denied it in part.  The court granted the motion to bifurcate to the extent that the court ruled that the issue of residency and coverage would be addressed first.  Although the defense asserted that the coverage question was one of law for the court to decide, the court initially ruled that the coverage question would go to the jury.  The Court appeared to rule in this fashion as there were factual issues on the question of residency to be resolved.

Anyone wishing to review the Court's Order without Opinion may click this LINK.

Postscript:  At a more recent court conference after this Order was issued, the Court agreed to decide the coverage issue after securing and agreement of counsel for the Court to decide that issue.  However, the entire case settled before the bench trial on the coverage issue took place.

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