ILNews

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. Just an aside, but regardless of the outcome, I 'm proud of Judge William Hughes. He was the original magistrate on the Home place issue. He ruled for Home Place, and was primaried by Brainard for it. Their tool Poindexter failed to unseat Hughes, who won support for his honesty and courage throughout the county, and he was reelected Judge of Hamilton County's Superior Court. You can still stand for something and survive. Thanks, Judge Hughes!

  2. CCHP's real accomplishment is the 2015 law signed by Gov Pence that basically outlaws any annexation that is forced where a 65% majority of landowners in the affected area disagree. Regardless of whether HP wins or loses, the citizens of Indiana will not have another fiasco like this. The law Gov Pence signed is a direct result of this malgovernance.

  3. I gave tempparry guardship to a friend of my granddaughter in 2012. I went to prison. I had custody. My daughter went to prison to. We are out. My daughter gave me custody but can get her back. She was not order to give me custody . but now we want granddaughter back from friend. She's 14 now. What rights do we have

  4. This sure is not what most who value good governance consider the Rule of Law to entail: "In a letter dated March 2, which Brizzi forwarded to IBJ, the commission dismissed the grievance “on grounds that there is not reasonable cause to believe that you are guilty of misconduct.”" Yet two month later reasonable cause does exist? (Or is the commission forging ahead, the need for reasonable belief be damned? -- A seeming violation of the Rules of Profession Ethics on the part of the commission) Could the rule of law theory cause one to believe that an explanation is in order? Could it be that Hoosier attorneys live under Imperial Law (which is also a t-word that rhymes with infamy) in which the Platonic guardians can do no wrong and never owe the plebeian class any explanation for their powerful actions. (Might makes it right?) Could this be a case of politics directing the commission, as celebrated IU Mauer Professor (the late) Patrick Baude warned was happening 20 years ago in his controversial (whisteblowing) ethics lecture on a quite similar topic: http://www.repository.law.indiana.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1498&context=ilj

  5. I have a case presently pending cert review before the SCOTUS that reveals just how Indiana regulates the bar. I have been denied licensure for life for holding the wrong views and questioning the grand inquisitors as to their duties as to state and federal constitutional due process. True story: https://www.scribd.com/doc/299040839/2016Petitionforcert-to-SCOTUS Shorter, Amici brief serving to frame issue as misuse of govt licensure: https://www.scribd.com/doc/312841269/Thomas-More-Society-Amicus-Brown-v-Ind-Bd-of-Law-Examiners

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