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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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  1. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  2. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  3. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  4. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

  5. "No one is safe when the Legislature is in session."

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