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JOSEPH RUNEWICZ AND NELLIE RUNEWICZ v. KEYSTONE INSURANCE COMPANY (01/26/78)

decided: January 26, 1978.

JOSEPH RUNEWICZ AND NELLIE RUNEWICZ, HIS WIFE, APPELLANTS,
v.
KEYSTONE INSURANCE COMPANY



COUNSEL

Joseph D. Shein, Philadelphia, for appellants.

W. H. Livingston, Philadelphia, for appellee.

Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix and Manderino, JJ. Roberts, J., joins in this Opinion and also files a Concurring Opinion. Pomeroy, J., files a Dissenting Opinion in which Eagen, C. J., joins. Jones, former C. J., took no part in the consideration or decision of this case.

Author: O'brien

[ 476 Pa. Page 458]

OPINION OF THE COURT

Appellant Nellie Runewicz was injured while operating an automobile insured by appellee, Keystone Insurance Company (Keystone). The accident occurred when an automobile operated by Berretta Christman crossed the road and collided

[ 476 Pa. Page 459]

    with the Runewicz vehicle. Appellants, Nellie Runewicz and her husband, Joseph Runewicz, sued Christman in the Court of Common Pleas of Bucks County, where the accident occurred. Before trial it was revealed that Christman was insured for $25,000 by Insurance Company of North America. Christman's insurer offered to settle for the policy limit. Appellants notified Keystone of the offer and then accepted it, as Christman did not have assets from which a greater judgment could be satisfied.

Appellants considered the settlement insufficient to compensate for the injuries and filed a claim with Keystone under their policy's uninsured motorist coverage. The policy stated that it would cover damages for which the owner or operator of an uninsured automobile was responsible. It was to be applicable to:

". . . an automobile or trailer with respect to the ownership, maintenance or use of which there is, in at least the amounts specified by the financial responsibility law of the state in which the insured automobile is principally garaged, no bodily injury liability bond or insurance policy applicable at the time of the accident with respect to any person or organization legally responsible for the use of such automobile, or with respect to which there is a bodily injury liability bond or insurance policy applicable at the time of the accident but the company writing the same denies coverage thereunder."

The uninsured motorist provision also contained a trust agreement applicable in case of any payment thereunder. The agreement provided in relevant part that:

"(a) the company shall be entitled to the extent of such payment to the proceeds of any settlement or judgment that may result from the exercise of any rights of recovery of such person against any person or organization legally responsible for the bodily injury because of which such payment is made;

"(b) such person shall hold in trust for the benefit of the company all rights of recovery which he shall have against such other ...


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