Monday, October 5, 2020

Regular Use Exclusion Upheld (Again)

In the case of Conti v. Castillo-Rodriquez, No. S-269-19 (C.P. Schuylkill Co. Sept. 25, 2020 Russell, J.), the court granted summary judgment in favor of Erie Insurance based upon an application of the regular use exclusion. 

According to the Opinion, the Plaintiff was involved in a motor vehicle accident while driving his work vehicle as a police officer. 

Following the accident, the Plaintiff eventually began an effort to recover UIM benefits under his own personal automobile insurance policy that was issued by his carrier. That carrier opposed the Plaintiff’s claim for UIM benefits under an application of the regular use exclusion.

During these Motions for Summary Judgment proceedings, the carrier asserted that the regular use exclusion remained enforceable. The Plaintiff argued that the provisions of Pennsylvania Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility Law, in conjunction with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s decision in the case of Gallagher v. Geico, 201 A.3d 131 (Pa. 2019), in which the Supreme Court ruled that the household exclusion was invalid as a de facto waiver of stacked UM/UIM coverages, rendered the regular use exclusion invalid as well. 

Relying, in part, on the case of Williams v. Geico, 32 A.3d 1195 (Pa. 2011), the court in this Conti case held that the regular use exclusion remained valid and enforceable under Pennsylvania law. 

The court in Conti also noted that the majority in the Gallagher v. Geico case indicated that its decision was “narrow.”  The judge in Conti also pointed out that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in Gallagher “offer[ed] no opinion or comment on the enforceability of any other exclusion to UM or UIM coverage or to coverage in general,” citing Gallagher v. Geico at p. 138, n. 8. 

As such, the court in this Conti case stated that, since the Pennsylvania Supreme Court had not abrogated the reasoning set forth in the Williams case, the decision and law of the Williams case was found to be controlling in this matter. 

Given that there were no issues of fact to preclude the entry of summary judgment, the court in Conti applied the regular use exclusion and entered summary judgment in favor of the carrier and against the Plaintiff. 

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

I send thanks to Attorney John A. Statler of the Lemoyne, PA law firm of Johnson, Duffie, Stewart & Weidner for bringing this case to my attention.

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