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Judges rule in favor of insured

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The Indiana Court of Appeals found under the plain language of a woman’s insurance policy, the woman did what was required of her by the policy to pursue an underinsured motorist claim.

Laverna Ewing was injured when Brent Vannorman’s vehicle hit hers from behind. She filed a complaint for damages against Vannorman within the two-year statute of limitations applicable to her bodily injury claims. She settled for his policy limits, which didn’t cover all her expenses, so she filed an underinsured motorist claim with her insurer, Auto-Owners Insurance Co. This claim came outside of the statute of limitations.

Auto-Owners denied her claim, arguing that she had to file it with them within the two-year limit. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Ewing and the executors of her estate, finding the underinsured motorist coverage contractual limitation provision is unenforceable because it is vague and ambiguous.

The Court of Appeals affirmed in Auto-Owners Insurance Company v. Cathy Benko and Gerald Ewing, as Executors of the Estate of Laverna Ewing, Deceased, No. 75A04-1108-CT-440, with Judge John Baker writing, “We conclude that the plain language of the provision would lead an ordinary policyholder to believe that they were required to bring a bodily injury claim against the alleged tortfeasor within the applicable statute of limitations, which occurred in this case. Additionally, if the insurance company intended a different interpretation, it should have stated so in plain English so that their policyholders understand what is necessary to protect their interests and collect their benefits under the policy.”

The judges also upheld the denial of Auto-Owners’ motion to strike the appellees’ July 21, 2011, supplemental designation of evidence that it had argued was untimely.  


 

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  2. Hail to our Constitutional Law Expert in the Executive Office! “What you’re not paying attention to is the fact that I just took an action to change the law,” Obama said.

  3. What is this, the Ind Supreme Court thinking that there is a separation of powers and limited enumerated powers as delegated by a dusty old document? Such eighteen century thinking, so rare and unwanted by the elites in this modern age. Dictate to us, dictate over us, the massess are chanting! George Soros agrees. Time to change with times Ind Supreme Court, says all President Snows. Rule by executive decree is the new black.

  4. I made the same argument before a commission of the Indiana Supreme Court and then to the fedeal district and federal appellate courts. Fell flat. So very glad to read that some judges still beleive that evidentiary foundations matter.

  5. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

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