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Judges affirm insurer has no duty to defend

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The Indiana Court of Appeals agreed with the trial court that a homeowner’s insurance policy is clear that the ingestion of methadone by a guest at his house and his subsequent injuries are excluded from the policy’s liability coverage.

This is the second time Phillip Forman v. Wayne Penn, Lisa Orr, Bradley Orr, and Christopher Green/Phillip Forman, Wayne Penn, Lisa Orr, and Bradley Orr v. Western Reserve Mutual Casualty Co., No. 33A01-1007-CT-343, has made it to the Court of Appeals. The first time, the judges dismissed the appeal because they found the summary judgment order in favor of Western Reserve Mutual Casualty Co. wasn’t final or appealable.

The trial court has since certified its ruling for discretionary interlocutory appeal and the Court of Appeals granted Wayne Penn and Bradley Orr’s petition for rehearing and heard the interlocutory appeal.

At issue is whether Penn’s insurer, Western Reserve, has a duty to defend Penn, Lisa Orr, and her son Bradley in Phillip Forman’s lawsuit. While spending the night at Penn and Orr’s home – which is only owned and insured by Penn – Forman, who was 17 at the time, took some of Orr’s prescribed methadone and had to be hospitalized. He now has permanent injuries. He claimed Orr’s then-teenage son Bradley gave him the drug. Forman sued alleging negligent supervision and control over the methadone and negligence in caring for him after it was discovered he couldn’t be wakened in the morning and had to be hospitalized.

The trial court granted summary judgment for the insurer, finding that the policy’s exclusion for claims “arising out of the use, sale, manufacture, delivery, transfer, or possession by any person of [a Schedule II Controlled Substance]” precluded the insurer from defending Penn and Bradley.

The Court of Appeals affirmed that Western Reserve had no duty to defend the appellants because the incident was excluded from liability coverage under the policy. Penn, Orr, and Bradley argue the exclusion doesn’t apply because Orr’s possession and use of the drug was legitimate. But Forman’s injury arose from his use of the methadone, which wasn’t a legitimate use of the drug under a doctor’s prescription, wrote Judge John Baker.

“We sympathize with the Appellants’ argument that they are entirely innocent of any connection between Forman and his decision to steal and consume Lisa’s methadone,” he wrote. “We acknowledge that the Appellants justifiably believe that Western Reserve should defend them under these circumstances. Unfortunately for the Appellants, the language of the policy is clear and unambiguous that Forman’s injury, which arose out of his illicit use of a controlled substance, is excluded from liability coverage.”
 

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  1. Poor Judge Brown probably thought that by slavishly serving the godz of the age her violations of 18th century concepts like due process and the rule of law would be overlooked. Mayhaps she was merely a Judge ahead of her time?

  2. in a lawyer discipline case Judge Brown, now removed, was presiding over a hearing about a lawyer accused of the supposedly heinous ethical violation of saying the words "Illegal immigrant." (IN re Barker) http://www.in.gov/judiciary/files/order-discipline-2013-55S00-1008-DI-429.pdf .... I wonder if when we compare the egregious violations of due process by Judge Brown, to her chiding of another lawyer for politically incorrectness, if there are any conclusions to be drawn about what kind of person, what kind of judge, what kind of apparatchik, is busy implementing the agenda of political correctness and making off-limits legit advocacy about an adverse party in a suit whose illegal alien status is relevant? I am just asking the question, the reader can make own conclsuion. Oh wait-- did I use the wrong adjective-- let me rephrase that, um undocumented alien?

  3. of course the bigger questions of whether or not the people want to pay for ANY bussing is off limits, due to the Supreme Court protecting the people from DEMOCRACY. Several decades hence from desegregation and bussing plans and we STILL need to be taking all this taxpayer money to combat mostly-imagined "discrimination" in the most obviously failed social program of the postwar period.

  4. You can put your photos anywhere you like... When someone steals it they know it doesn't belong to them. And, a man getting a divorce is automatically not a nice guy...? That's ridiculous. Since when is need of money a conflict of interest? That would mean that no one should have a job unless they are already financially solvent without a job... A photographer is also under no obligation to use a watermark (again, people know when a photo doesn't belong to them) or provide contact information. Hey, he didn't make it easy for me to pay him so I'll just take it! Well heck, might as well walk out of the grocery store with a cart full of food because the lines are too long and you don't find that convenient. "Only in Indiana." Oh, now you're passing judgement on an entire state... What state do you live in? I need to characterize everyone in your state as ignorant and opinionated. And the final bit of ignorance; assuming a photo anyone would want is lucky and then how much does your camera have to cost to make it a good photo, in your obviously relevant opinion?

  5. Seventh Circuit Court Judge Diane Wood has stated in “The Rule of Law in Times of Stress” (2003), “that neither laws nor the procedures used to create or implement them should be secret; and . . . the laws must not be arbitrary.” According to the American Bar Association, Wood’s quote drives home this point: The rule of law also requires that people can expect predictable results from the legal system; this is what Judge Wood implies when she says that “the laws must not be arbitrary.” Predictable results mean that people who act in the same way can expect the law to treat them in the same way. If similar actions do not produce similar legal outcomes, people cannot use the law to guide their actions, and a “rule of law” does not exist.

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