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Issue of fact precludes summary judgment in insurance case

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Neither side in a dispute over whether a deceased man’s auto insurer should provide coverage for losses from an accident that occurred while he was driving his girlfriend’s car is entitled to summary judgment, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday. A genuine issue of material fact remains as to whether the girlfriend’s car was furnished or available for the man’s regular use.

Bradley Kinser was driving his girlfriend’s Ford Focus home after a trip to the Children’s Museum in Indianapolis. Kinser, his girlfriend Natalie Rike, and two of their children were involved in an accident with Don and Jayne Page. Everyone involved was injured and Kinser was killed.

Kinser’s insurer, Indiana Insurance Company, filed for a declaratory judgment stating that it is not required to cover any losses because Kinser’s policy excluded coverage for a vehicle furnished or available for his regular use. Kinser’s car, an SUV, was covered by his policy, but the Focus wasn’t added. Kinser and his girlfriend lived together and commuted to work together in her Focus. He would drive to work and she would drive home. Each had keys to the other’s car, but Rike said that was in case the other got locked out of his or her car. Rike said Kinser would ask for permission to use the car, wouldn’t take it without asking, and generally drove his SUV unless they were going to work.

The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Indiana Insurance and denied Rike and other appellants’ motion for summary judgment. The trial court said the facts showed Kinser regularly used the car and it was always available for his use.

In Estate of Bradley Kinser, et al. v. Indiana Insurance Company, No. 29A02-1009-PL-1093, the appellate judges examined the exclusion in Kinser’s policy, which said it would not provide liability coverage for any vehicle, other than the coverage car, that is “furnished or available for your regular use.” The policy doesn’t define “furnished” or “available,” but the judges cited caselaw in which the court has held that “furnish” means one is given keys to access and permission to use a given vehicle for a purpose as both the furnisher and recipient mutually understand.

The COA judges used a dictionary definition of “available” and found that although Kinser had a key and used that key to drive the car, the main reason for that key was in case of a lock out. Chief Judge Margret Robb noted that this and other nuances may affect whether the Focus was “available” for Kinser’s use.

There are genuine issues of material fact as to whether the car was furnished to or made available to Kinser, and as to whether he regularly used the Focus. The judges reversed summary judgment and remanded for further proceedings.

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  1. Well, maybe it's because they are unelected, and, they have a tendency to strike down laws by elected officials from all over the country. When you have been taught that "Democracy" is something almost sacred, then, you will have a tendency to frown on such imperious conduct. Lawyers get acculturated in law school into thinking that this is the very essence of high minded government, but to people who are more heavily than King George ever did, they may not like it. Thanks for the information.

  2. I pd for a bankruptcy years ago with Mr Stiles and just this week received a garnishment from my pay! He never filed it even though he told me he would! Don't let this guy practice law ever again!!!

  3. Excellent initiative on the part of the AG. Thankfully someone takes action against predators taking advantage of people who have already been through the wringer. Well done!

  4. Conour will never turn these funds over to his defrauded clients. He tearfully told the court, and his daughters dutifully pledged in interviews, that his first priority is to repay every dime of the money he stole from his clients. Judge Young bought it, much to the chagrin of Conour’s victims. Why would Conour need the $2,262 anyway? Taxpayers are now supporting him, paying for his housing, utilities, food, healthcare, and clothing. If Conour puts the money anywhere but in the restitution fund, he’s proved, once again, what a con artist he continues to be and that he has never had any intention of repaying his clients. Judge Young will be proven wrong... again; Conour has no remorse and the Judge is one of the many conned.

  5. Pass Legislation to require guilty defendants to pay for the costs of lab work, etc as part of court costs...

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