Thursday, May 23, 2024

Judge Mannion of Federal Middle District Court Addresses Continuing Validity of the Regular Use Exclusion and Makes Predictions

In the case of Dayton v. The Automobile Insurance Co. of Hartford, CT, No. 3:20-CV-01833-MEM (M.D. Pa. April 23, 2024 Mannion, J.), the court addressed the issue of whether “regular use” exclusion provision in a motor vehicle insurance policy is unenforceable as contrary to Pennsylvania law under a 75 Pa. C.S.A. §1738 analysis.

Judge Mannion predicted that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court would find that the regular use exclusion does not violate §1738 of Pennsylvania’s Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility Law.

According to the Opinion, this lawsuit arose out of a motor vehicle accident during which the Plaintiff was injured while driving his employer’s truck. 

The Plaintiff sued after he was not allowed to stack his personal automobile coverage limits on top of the separate insurance policy issued by a different insurance company that his employer had for the truck that the Plaintiff had been driving at the time of the accident.

The carrier in this case had denied the Plaintiff’s claim for additional UIM benefits based upon a regular use exclusion which precluded any coverage when injuries were sustained by an insured while occupying a non-insured vehicle that was available for the insured’s regular use.

The court rejected the Plaintiff’s arguments under the Gallagher v. Geico line of cases under which the Plaintiff attempted to argue that the regular use exclusion, like the household exclusion, operates as a impermissible de facto waiver of stacking under certain circumstances.

In addition to noting that the scope of the Gallagher decision had been limited by recent decisions by Pennsylvania Supreme Court, including in the case of Erie Insurance Exchange v. Mione, Judge Mannion also noted that, earlier this year, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court had upheld the regular use exclusion as enforceable in the case of Rush v. Erie Insurance Exchange under a 75 Pa. C.S.A. §1731 analysis.

Judge Malachy E. Mannion
M.D. Pa.

The court noted that the separate §1738 analysis was not addressed in the Rush case. In this regard, Judge Mannion found that the Erie Insurance Exchange v. Mione by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court was instructive and “dictates the prediction that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court would conclude that a regular use exclusion which does not deprive an insured of stacked UIM coverage does not violate §1738.” 

In this case, the court found that the Plaintiff did not have any insurance policy under which §1738 would require stacking of the UIM coverage provided in his personal policy with the insurance company at issue in this case and that, therefore, that policy’s regular use exclusion does not deprive the Plaintiff of stacked coverage and, therefore, did not violate §1738.

Accordingly, the Plaintiff’s arguments that the regular use exclusion violated the MVFRL were rejected by the Court, the regular use exclusion was enforced, and the Defendant carrier was granted summary judgment in this case.

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

Source: Article – “Federal Court Predicts How Pa. Supreme Court will Address Unanswered Question About Regular Use Exclusion.” By Riley Brennan, the Legal Intelligencer (April 26, 2024).

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.