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EVA TUBNER v. STATE FARM MUTUAL AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE COMPANY (11/05/81)

decided: November 5, 1981.

EVA TUBNER, ADMINISTRATRIX OF THE ESTATE OF JERRY AMEY, DECEASED, APPELLEE.
v.
STATE FARM MUTUAL AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE COMPANY, APPELLANT



No. 80-1-189, Appeal from the Order of the Superior Court, No. 434 April Term 1979 dated July 25, 1980, reversing the Order of the Court of Common Pleas, Civil Division, of Allegheny County at No. GD 18397.

COUNSEL

Charles J. Duffy, Jr., Weis & Weis, Pittsburgh, for appellant.

Mark B. Aronson, Behrend, Aronson & Morrow, Pittsburgh, for appellee.

Edward P. Zemprelli, Clairton, for amicus curiae Pa. Assigned Claims Plan, Philadelphia, Pa.

Richard C. Angino, Benjamin & Angino, P.C., Harrisburg, for amicus curiae Pa. Trial Lawyers Association.

O'Brien, C. J., and Roberts, Nix, Larsen, Flaherty and Kauffman, JJ. Nix, J., filed a dissenting opinion in which Roberts, J., joined.

Author: Kauffman

[ 496 Pa. Page 217]

OPINION

Before us is a question of first impression concerning the financial obligations of insurance companies under the No-Fault Motor Vehicle Insurance Act ("No-Fault Act").*fn1 At issue is whether a company designated to provide insurance coverage pursuant to the assigned claims plan of the No-Fault Act is required to pay not only "basic loss benefits," but also uninsured motorist benefits.*fn2

Appellee, Eva Tubner, is administratrix of the estate of Jerry Amey ("decedent"), who died of injuries he received in a motor vehicle accident while a passenger in an uninsured automobile. Decedent did not own a motor vehicle, and thus had no applicable insurance under the No-Fault Act.*fn3 Pursuant to the assigned claims plan, appellant, State Farm Mutual Insurance Co. ("State Farm"), was designated as the participating insurer, and it paid appellee basic loss benefits.*fn4

Contending, however, that she was also entitled to uninsured motorist benefits, appellee brought this action against

[ 496 Pa. Page 218]

State Farm in the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas. State Farm argued that the assigned claims plan does not contemplate recovery of uninsured motorist benefits, and both parties moved for summary judgment. The trial court ruled in favor of State Farm. The Superior Court reversed; we granted allocatur, and now affirm the order of the Superior Court 280 Pa. Super. 38, 421 A.2d 392.*fn5

The Legislature's expressed purpose in adopting the No-Fault Act was to create a "low cost, comprehensive, and fair system" which uniformly would provide for "maximum feasible restoration" of all victims of motor vehicle accidents.*fn6 As defined in Section 108 of the No-Fault Act, the assigned claims plan departs from the prior system by providing for recovery when no source of insurance coverage otherwise exists.*fn7 Under Section 108(b), insurers are assigned to ...


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