November 17th, 2017 by Rieders Travis in Insurance

Safe Auto Insurance Co. v. Guillermo, 2017 Pa. Super. LEXIS 711 (September 18, 2017) Dubow, J.  This appeal arises from the Declaratory Judgment Action that Appellee, Safe Auto Insurance Company (“Safe Auto”), filed in Lehigh County. The trial court granted Safe Auto’s Motion for Summary Judgment, finding that Safe Auto was not obligated to provide insurance coverage to Rachel Dixon (“Dixon”) because Dixon was driving the policyholder’s car and the policyholder did not list her as a driver on his automobile insurance policy (“Safe Auto Policy”). Appellants, Priscila Jimenez and Luis Jimenez, appealed. After careful review, we affirm.

On April 29, 2013, Dixon and another driver were involved in a two-car motor vehicle accident in Allentown, Pennsylvania. Appellant Priscila Jimenez, the passenger in the other vehicle, filed a separate personal injury lawsuit seeking damages against three individuals: Dixon, the owner of the car that Dixon was driving, and the driver of the other car involved in the accident. Dixon was driving a car that her boyfriend, Rene Oriental-Guillermo, (the “Policyholder”) owned. He insured his car through Safe Auto. The Safe Auto Policy had an Unlisted Resident Driver Exclusion, which specifically excluded from coverage those individuals who lived with the Policyholder, but were not related to the policyholder and whom the Policyholder did not specifically list on the Policy (“Unlisted Resident Driver Exclusion”). In this case, Dixon lived with the Policyholder, but was not related to him and was not specifically listed as a driver of the Policyholder’s car on his Policy.

The policy language is unambiguous. Also, there is no dispute that Dixon lived with Policyholder, but is unrelated to him, and he did not list her as an additional driver on his policy. Therefore, the trial court properly found that the exclusion applied and Safe Auto was not obligated to defend Dixon.

In this case, the Policyholder failed to identify Dixon as a non-relative resident living in his household who was driving his car. Thus, he failed to meet the obligation of section 75 P.S. § 1786(f) that requires him to ensure that a driver of his car had insurance. We, therefore, reject the argument that the Unlisted Resident Driver Exclusion is contrary to the policy set forth in the MVFRL.

Auto’s coverage obligation under the Policyholder’s policy, we agree with the trial court’s conclusion that Safe Auto is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.

Attorney Cliff Rieders

Attorney Cliff RiedersCliff Rieders is a Nationally Board Certified Trial Lawyer practicing personal injury law. A large part of his practice involves multi-district litigation, including cases related to pharmaceuticals, vitamin supplements and medical devices. He is admitted in several state and federal courts, as well as the Supreme Court of the United States. Rieders is the past regional president of the Federal Bar Association and is a life member of the distinguished American Law Institute, which promulgates proposed rules adopted by many state courts. He is a past president of the Pennsylvania Association for Justice, formerly Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers Association. As a founder of the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority, he served on the Board for 15 years.

Not only has Rieders held many highly esteemed, leadership positions, he authored legislation related to the Patient Safety Authority and the Mcare Act, which governs medical and hospital liability actions in Pennsylvania. He authored texts upon which both practitioners and judges rely, including Pennsylvania Malpractice Laws and Forms, and Financial Responsibility Law Issues in Pennsylvania, the latter governing auto and truck collisions in Pennsylvania. In addition, he wrote several books on the practice of law in Pennsylvania regarding wrongful death and survivor actions, insurance bad faith, legal malpractice claims and worker rights, among others. Rieders also serves as a resource to practitioners as a regular speaker for Celesq, an arm of the world’s largest legal publisher, Thomson Reuters West Publishing.

As recognition of his wide range of contribution to his profession and of his dedication to protecting the rights of his clients, he received numerous awards, among them the George F. Douglas Amicus Curiae Award, the Milton D. Rosenberg Award, the B’nai B’rith Justice Award, and awards of recognition from the Pennsylvania Trial Lawyers. [ Attorney Bio ]



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