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COA: Policy doesn't cover car in accident

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The Indiana Court of Appeals ruled in favor of an insurance company in a suit seeking compensation for damages by the insured's grandson after a car accident. The appellate court also used the opinion to remind counsel of the rules for filing appendices.

The Court of Appeals reversed summary judgment in favor of Alexis and Amber Wroblewski and their mother Christine Lewis, in Motorists Mutual Insurance Co. v. Alexis Wroblewski, et al., No. 46A03-0807-CV-352. Amber was riding in Aaron Litherland's car, which was involved in an accident. He got the car as a 16th birthday present from his grandparents and legal guardians, Bertha and Robert Shemberger. The car was insured by a different company than Motorists Mutual, who insured the Shembergers' cars. Bertha signed the financial responsibility form pursuant to Indiana statute, which requires a minor's application for a driver's license to be signed and sworn by a guardian willing to assume joint responsibility for any injury or damage the minor causes while driving if the minor is liable.

The Wroblewskis filed a suit following the accident and named Bertha as a defendant bearing financial responsibility. The trial court entered judgment against Bertha for nearly $100,000. Then the family filed a suit against Motorists Mutual, claiming the company's policy provided coverage to Bertha for the judgment entered against her. The trial court entered summary judgment in favor of the Wroblewskis and denied the insurer's motion for summary judgment.

Bertha's policy with Motorists Mutual clearly provides no liability coverage for Aaron's car because it doesn't cover any vehicle that's owned by any family member, other than Bertha's covered cars, wrote Judge Patricia Riley. The appellate court cited the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals case, Cincinnati Ins. Co. v. Moen, 940 F.2d 1069, 1074-75 (7th Cir. 1991), which held that identical exclusionary language in a homeowner's police released an insurer from liability when the family member owned the non-covered automobile in the accident. Bertha may have been liable because of Indiana Code, but her insurer's policy language determines whether the liability is covered by Motorists Mutual, wrote the judge. The case was remanded with instructions to enter summary judgment in favor of Motorists Mutual.

The opinion also reminds parties to give the court a complete appellate appendix. The insurer's original appendix didn't include any of the documents needed for review and the Wroblewskis' appendix only presented a transcript of the hearing on the motions for summary judgment. Motorists Mutual submitted a supplemental appendix after the appellate court issued an order.

"As no designated materials were before us, Motorists Mutual's issue on appeal would surely have been waived. Lately, this court has seen an increase in the filing of incomplete appendices," wrote the judge. "We strongly caution counsel to familiarize themselves with the appellate rules governing the filing of appendices."

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  1. Indiana's seatbelt law is not punishable as a crime. It is an infraction. Apparently some of our Circuit judges have deemed settled law inapplicable if it fails to fit their litmus test of political correctness. Extrapolating to redefine terms of behavior in a violation of immigration law to the entire body of criminal law leaves a smorgasbord of opportunity for judicial mischief.

  2. I wonder if $10 diversions for failure to wear seat belts are considered moral turpitude in federal immigration law like they are under Indiana law? Anyone know?

  3. What a fine article, thank you! I can testify firsthand and by detailed legal reports (at end of this note) as to the dire consequences of rejecting this truth from the fine article above: "The inclusion and expansion of this right [to jury] in Indiana’s Constitution is a clear reflection of our state’s intention to emphasize the importance of every Hoosier’s right to make their case in front of a jury of their peers." Over $20? Every Hoosier? Well then how about when your very vocation is on the line? How about instead of a jury of peers, one faces a bevy of political appointees, mini-czars, who care less about due process of the law than the real czars did? Instead of trial by jury, trial by ideological ordeal run by Orwellian agents? Well that is built into more than a few administrative law committees of the Ind S.Ct., and it is now being weaponized, as is revealed in articles posted at this ezine, to root out post moderns heresies like refusal to stand and pledge allegiance to all things politically correct. My career was burned at the stake for not so saluting, but I think I was just one of the early logs. Due, at least in part, to the removal of the jury from bar admission and bar discipline cases, many more fires will soon be lit. Perhaps one awaits you, dear heretic? Oh, at that Ind. article 12 plank about a remedy at law for every damage done ... ah, well, the founders evidently meant only for those damages done not by the government itself, rabid statists that they were. (Yes, that was sarcasm.) My written reports available here: Denied petition for cert (this time around): http://tinyurl.com/zdmawmw Denied petition for cert (from the 2009 denial and five year banishment): http://tinyurl.com/zcypybh Related, not written by me: Amicus brief: http://tinyurl.com/hvh7qgp

  4. Justice has finally been served. So glad that Dr. Ley can finally sleep peacefully at night knowing the truth has finally come to the surface.

  5. While this right is guaranteed by our Constitution, it has in recent years been hampered by insurance companies, i.e.; the practice of the plaintiff's own insurance company intervening in an action and filing a lien against any proceeds paid to their insured. In essence, causing an additional financial hurdle for a plaintiff to overcome at trial in terms of overall award. In a very real sense an injured party in exercise of their right to trial by jury may be the only party in a cause that would end up with zero compensation.

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