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Court: team-building activity not under insured conditions

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The Indiana Court of Appeals today affirmed summary judgment in favor of an insurance company, noting a soccer team’s accident while traveling to an activity outside of the trip’s purpose was not covered.

In Sarah Haag, et al. v. Mark Castro, The Indiana Youth Soccer Association, Virginia Surety Co, Inc., et al., No. 29A04-1001-CT-10, the panel disagreed about what constituted “used in the business of.”

Members of the Carmel Commotion Soccer Team traveled in June 2004 to Colorado for a soccer tournament. During a pre-planned time for an unspecified “team activity,” the coach, Mark Castro, and team members decided to go on a white-water rafting trip and used the passenger van the coach had rented in Colorado for use during the tournament. While traveling to raft, the van collided with another vehicle and team members were injured.

Team members in June 2006 filed a complaint for declaratory relief seeking a declaration that Virginia Surety’s policy, which was secured through the Indiana Youth Soccer Association, provided coverage for the team members while the coach drove them to the team-building white-water rafting activity.

The policy provided for business auto coverage and extended coverage – under certain conditions – for liability out of the use of a vehicle. This covered “Named Insured, member associations and its clubs, leagues, teams, employees, volunteers, executive officers, directors, shareholders, therein but only while the automobile is being used in the business of the Named Insured. … App. p. 101 (emphasis added).”

Virginia Surety filed for summary judgment and evidentiary designation denying coverage to the team members for their injuries sustained in the collision. Team members filed a cross-motion for summary judgment. The trial court granted summary judgment in Virginia Surety’s favor Dec. 10, 2009.

The appellate court focused on the meaning of “used in the business of” and whether the coach’s use of the van was “in the business of the Named Insured” at the time of the accident.

“Because the designated evidence does not establish that the IYSA had the right to control Carmel Commotion’s activities while attending the out-of-state soccer tournament, we conclude that Castro was not using the rented van 'in the business of' the IYSA when he was transporting the team to a white water rafting activity unrelated to the out-of-state soccer tournament the team received the IYSA’s permission to attend. Under the terms of the Virginia Surety insurance policy and the facts and circumstances before us, we hold that Castro’s use of the van was not covered under the policy. Accordingly, we affirm the trial court’s summary judgment in favor of Virginia Surety,” wrote Judge Paul Mathias, with which Judge Cale Bradford concurred.

Judge Patricia Riley, however, dissented.

In the dissent, she wrote, the IYSA “clearly had the right to control Carmel Commotion’s out-of-state participation and the time spent while partaking in the tournament. Not only was Carmel Commotion required to receive IYSA’s permission prior to attending, but it also had to pay fees and the Team Members were required to carry certain documents with them. Regardless of its awareness of Carmel Commotion’s team building activity on June 12, 2004, the IYSA was in control of the trip because the IYSA could have withheld the permit to travel, as was its right; however, by issuing the permit they implicitly and without any limitations assured that the Team Members were insured during the duration of the trip.”
 

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