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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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  1. 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

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. Why in the world would someone need a person to correct a transcript when a realtime court reporter could provide them with a transcript (rough draft) immediately?

  5. This article proved very enlightening. Right ahead of sitting the LSAT for the first time, I felt a sense of relief that a score of 141 was admitted to an Indiana Law School and did well under unique circumstances. While my GPA is currently 3.91 I fear standardized testing and hope that I too will get a good enough grade for acceptance here at home. Thanks so much for this informative post.

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