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WASILKO v. HOME MUTUAL CASUALTY COMPANY (06/16/67)

decided: June 16, 1967.

WASILKO
v.
HOME MUTUAL CASUALTY COMPANY, APPELLANT



Appeals from judgment of Court of Common Pleas of Clearfield County, May T., 1965, No. 632, and Sept. T., 1965, No. 255, in cases of Constance Leon Wasilko v. Home Mutual Casualty Company, and Anthony Murawski et al. v. Same.

COUNSEL

Paul Silberblatt, with him Bell, Silberblatt & Swoope, for appellant.

Joseph J. Lee, with him William U. Smith, for appellees.

Ervin, P. J., Wright, Watkins, Montgomery, Jacobs, Hoffman, and Spaulding, JJ. Opinion by Spaulding, J.

Author: Spaulding

[ 210 Pa. Super. Page 324]

This is an appeal from a judgment against Home Mutual Casualty Company as insurer under a "non-owner" operator's motor vehicle liability policy.

On June 29, 1963, Anthony Murawski and Constance Wasilko, while riding in an automobile owned by Bernard Murawski, were involved in a collision with a car driven by Harry L. Jukes. The three plaintiffs obtained judgments against Jukes and writs of execution were returned unsatisfied. Plaintiffs instituted suit against Home Mutual, alleging the company was liable for the judgments against Jukes. A jury trial resulted in verdicts for plaintiffs.

At the time of the accident, Jukes was operating the motor vehicle with a restricted license to drive, under the Motor Vehicle Safety Responsibility Provisions of The Pennsylvania Vehicle Code of April 29, 1959, P. L. 58, 75 P.S. ยง 1421, which limited his driving to "non-owned" vehicles.*fn1 He was insured under a policy issued by defendant company containing this express limitation.*fn2

[ 210 Pa. Super. Page 325]

The company contends it is not liable because Jukes was the actual owner of the vehicle involved in the accident, although title registration was in the name of his mother, Mrs. Sarah Lujack. In Pennsylvania, a certificate of title is merely evidence of ownership of a motor vehicle and is not conclusive. Hertz Corporation Page 325} v. Hardy, 197 Pa. Superior Ct. 466, 178 A.2d 833 (1962); Weigelt v. Factors Credit Corporation, 174 Pa. Superior Ct. 400, 101 A.2d 404 (1953).

The evidence relating to the title of the car operated by Jukes is uncontradicted. He purchased it June 12, 1963 with his own funds from a used car dealer near his home in Bellefonte, Pennsylvania. On June 14, he went to the home of his 72 year old mother in Brisbin, Pennsylvania, to have the reassignment of the certificate of title executed in her name. Mrs. Lujack testified that: he told her he wanted to put the car in her name rather than his wife's so that his wife could not sell it; he wanted to get the car for Mrs. Lujack's grandson;*fn3 because of arthritis she could not sign the papers and her son signed her name in her presence; he read none of the papers to her; and no notary public was present when her purported affidavit was taken.

She further testified that: her son was married and had not lived with her for approximately twelve years; she had never owned or operated a motor vehicle; never had a driver's license; did not buy the automobile in question; did not pay for it or for any of its gasoline, oil, or maintenance; prior to the accident the car was kept by her son at his residence in Bellefonte; the only time prior to the accident the car was ever at her residence was when Jukes visited her; she rode in the car on only one occasion and had no control over its use. After the accident, the car was brought to the Lujack house and stored until sold to a ...


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