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Question about residency leads to reversal in insurance case

April 23, 2012

Because a genuine issue of material fact exists as to whether a teenager lived with his mother or father, an appellate panel has remanded the matter for trial.

In Omni Insurance Group v. Lake Poage, Tonya Poage, Cody Bauer, Jill Bauer, Gary Bauer, and Allstate Insurance Company, No. 92A03-1105-CT-208, Omni Insurance Group appealed summary judgment for Allstate Insurance Co.; Lake and Tonya Poage; and Cody, Jill and Gary Bauer (known collectively as the Poages).

In 2008, Cody Bauer was driving a car owned by his mother, Treva Bauer, when he collided with a motorcycle driven by Lake Poage. Treva was insured by Omni, and her policy provided liability coverage to Treva, the named insured, to family members who used Treva’s car, and to anyone who used her car with her permission. But the policy excluded liability for coverage of bodily injury resulting from the use of a vehicle by “any resident, including a family member, of your household who is not listed in the Declarations page.” The policy doesn’t define “resident.”

Cody was not listed on Treva’s declarations page.

On the date of the collision, Cody was spending the night at Treva’s residence. Treva shared joint legal custody of Cody with Cody’s father. Cody had his own bedroom at both residences and kept belongings at both places. He considered both residences to be his home. At the time of the collision, Treva was moving from Churubusco to Columbia City, and when she moved Cody changed schools. Cody used his father’s address on his driver’s license and received his mail there. Cody was a listed driver on his father’s policy, but not Treva’s.

The Court of Appeals held that pursuant to the policy language, if Cody was a resident of Treva’s household, Omni was entitled to summary judgment because Cody was not listed on the declarations page. If he was not a resident of Treva’s household, the Poages were entitled to summary judgment, as Cody was driving Treva’s car with her permission. Because there is a genuine issue of fact as to his residency, the court found that summary judgment was not appropriate and remanded the matter for trial.
 

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