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ZK Results – ZK Result: Attorneys Aaron Weiss, and Jeffrey Ramaley Obtain Summary Judgment in Insurance Coverage Dispute

(Armstrong County, PA) (April 2020). Zimmer Kunz attorneys Aaron Weiss and Jeffrey Ramaley recently obtained Summary Judgment in favor of an auto insurance carrier arising out of a Declaratory Judgment Action regarding a coverage dispute for liability coverage for the daughter of the insured policy holder.

In this case, the insured’s daughter was involved in an accident while driving her uncle’s vehicle. Certain injured parties filed suit and pursued insurance proceeds from the uncle’s policy, as well as the policy purchased by the insured’s mother. The theory against this insurer was that the daughter should have been deemed a “resident relative” of her mother, thus entitling the daughter to coverage.

However, the insurer argued that (1) during written discovery the daughter/driver denied that she resided with her mother, (2) during their depositions, both the daughter and mother testified that they did not reside together, and (3) the mother even removed her daughter from her policy three weeks before the accident.

The Court began its legal analysis by noting the party seeking to establish insurance coverage has the burden of proof in this case. Furthermore, summary judgment was appropriate, since Nanty-Glo does not preclude the entry of summary judgment when the testimony offered by the moving party is that of an opposing party, or an opposing party’s witness.

In its substantive analysis, the Court first found the terms of the applicable insurance policy to be clear and unambiguous. The Court noted the distinction between domicile and residence, and found that there was no disputed material fact that the insured’s daughter moved to Florida to live with her brother prior to the accident. Although she returned to Pennsylvania numerous times, it was never with the intent to change her residence.

Thus, summary judgment was granted in favor of the insurer, and it was held as a matter of law that the mother’s insurer did not owe defense or indemnification to the daughter arising out of the accident. Anyone wishing to obtain a copy of the Memorandum Opinion and Order can contact attorney Aaron Weiss at Weiss@zklaw.com