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Justices divided on whether accident is covered by policy

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The Indiana Supreme Court ruled 3-1 Tuesday that an insurer for the Indiana Youth Soccer Association does not have to provide coverage for an accident involving a Carmel team during a trip to Colorado for a soccer tournament.

Justice Frank Sullivan Jr. authored the majority opinion, which found the insurance policy provided by Virginia Surety was unambiguous and did not require the insurer to provide coverage for the youth who were injured in the accident. Team members of Carmel Commotion, which is affiliated with IYSA, were in a rented van driven by their coach, Mark Castro, on their way to a “team-building” activity of white-water rafting when the van was in an accident.

The injured players and their parents sued Castro and IYSA’s insurance carrier seeking a declaration that IYSA’s insurance policy through Virginia Surety provided coverage while Castro drove the team to the white-water rafting activity. The trial court granted summary judgment to Virginia Surety; a divided Indiana Court of Appeals panel affirmed.

Examining the commercial lines policy at issue, the justices concluded that the accident did not occur while the van was being “used in the business of” IYSA. The high court deduced using the IYSA’s organizational documents that the association has three lines of business: promoting soccer; regulating competition, leagues, teams and players; and conducting specific events. For the policy to provide coverage for the accident, the van had to be used in one of those three lines of business. At the time of the accident the team nor Castro were doing any of those three things, so the accident wasn’t covered, wrote Sullivan in Sarah Haag, et al. v. Mark Castro, The Indiana Youth Soccer Association, Virginia Surety Company, Inc., et al., No. 29S04-1102-CT-118.

“Carmel Commotion’s ‘business’ is competing – along with the practicing, ‘team-building,’ and the like that comes with it. And while the IYSA promotes tournaments and regulates who plays in tournaments and even sponsors tournaments … the IYSA itself does not compete. The IYSA promotes soccer. It regulates playing soccer. It conducts soccer tournaments. But when an IYSA-registered team, with the help of its coach, competes in a tournament (even a tournament sponsored or sanctioned by the IYSA), the team is engaged in its own business, not that of the IYSA,” he wrote.

Justice Brent Dickson dissented because he found the policy to be ambiguous and should be construed to provide coverage under Indiana law. He disagreed with the majority’s narrow characterization of the “business” of the IYSA, and he wrote Virginia Surety should have clarified in its policy that travel to “team-building events” away from the soccer field should be excluded from coverage.

Justice Steven David did not participate.

 

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  1. For many years this young man was "family" being my cousin's son. Then he decided to ignore my existence and that of my daughter who was very hurt by his actions after growing up admiring, Jason. Glad he is doing well, as for his opinion, if you care so much you wouldn't ignore the feelings of those who cared so much about you for years, Jason.

  2. Good riddance to this dangerous activist judge

  3. What is the one thing the Hoosier legal status quo hates more than a whistleblower? A lawyer whistleblower taking on the system man to man. That must never be rewarded, must always, always, always be punished, lest the whole rotten tree be felled.

  4. I want to post this to keep this tread alive and hope more of David's former clients might come forward. In my case, this coward of a man represented me from June 2014 for a couple of months before I fired him. I knew something was wrong when he blatantly lied about what he had advised me in my contentious and unfortunate divorce trial. His impact on the proceedings cast a very long shadow and continues to impact me after a lengthy 19 month divorce. I would join a class action suit.

  5. The dispute in LB Indiana regarding lake front property rights is typical of most beach communities along our Great Lakes. Simply put, communication to non owners when visiting the lakefront would be beneficial. The Great Lakes are designated navigational waters (including shorelines). The high-water mark signifies the area one is able to navigate. This means you can walk, run, skip, etc. along the shores. You can't however loiter, camp, sunbath in front of someones property. Informational signs may be helpful to owners and visitors. Our Great Lakes are a treasure that should be enjoyed by all. PS We should all be concerned that the Long Beach, Indiana community is on septic systems.

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