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04/11/2012

Dismissal Obtained - Summary Judgment in Underinsured Motorist Coverage Claim

Attorneys Matthew K. Mitchell and Marc R. Jones of Cipriani & Werner’s (C&W) Marlton, New Jersey, office obtained summary judgment and a dismissal of all claims with prejudice for their carrier client in an uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) action. The case arose out of a serious motorcycle accident in which the plaintiff, while driving his own personal motorcycle for which he had his own personal motorcycle insurance, alleged that another driver (the co-defendant) cut him off and caused the accident wherein he sustained serious injuries to his legs and back. The plaintiff testified that at the time of the accident he had left work early and was on his way home to get changed for his fire department graduation later that night when the accident occurred. He worked for his father’s company, who was insured by C&W’s carrier client.

Plaintiff filed suit against various parties, including the co-defendant driver of the other vehicle for personal injuries, as well as his personal motorcycle UIM carrier and the carrier who provided commercial auto insurance to the plaintiff’s father, seeking UIM coverage. C&W attorneys argued that the plaintiff was not using the company owned/insured vehicle at the time of the accident; rather he was on personal time and not running any errands for his father’s company and was not operating a substitute vehicle in the course of his employment. C&W attorneys argued that the plaintiff maintained his own separate motorcycle insurance and also that the plaintiff could have no “reasonable expectation of coverage” under the father’s commercial policy, since the investigation revealed that the plaintiff was cited for, and pled guilty to, driving his motorcycle using an expired driver’s license.

The plaintiff contended that because he was the son of the owner of a small family business that he was entitled to “a reasonable expectation of coverage” under his father’s company’s commercial auto policy.

The trial court disagreed with the plaintiff’s argument and granted summary judgment in favor of C&W’s client, the insurance carrier, dismissing all claims.