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GRANT v. ERIE INS. EXCH.

June 8, 1982

Danny Ray GRANT, Individually and as Administrator of the Estate of Lynda D. Grant, Deceased; et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
ERIE INSURANCE EXCHANGE; et al., Defendants



The opinion of the court was delivered by: HERMAN

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

On November 5, 1980, Plaintiffs *fn1" commenced this antitrust class action against thirty-one Defendant Insurance Companies *fn2" pursuant to 15 U.S.C. §§ 1 through 7, 13 and 15, as amended. In the complaint, Plaintiffs allege that Defendants have conspired in restraint of trade to deny work loss benefits to individuals killed in motor vehicle accidents occurring on or after July 19, 1975. This alleged conspiracy consisted of an agreement or agreements among Defendants to refuse to offer insurance coverage with respect to work loss benefits of deceased victims of motor vehicle accidents, not to pay claims for such benefits, to conceal from potential claimants the right to bring such claims, and to provide a joint and uniform defense to claims for work loss benefits. In response, Defendants filed twenty motions to dismiss on behalf of twenty-four Defendants, four motions for judgment on the pleadings on behalf of four Defendants, and a motion for summary judgment on behalf of three Defendants. *fn3" The parties have submitted numerous briefs with regard to these motions and oral argument was held on March 13, 1981. *fn4"

 I. Introduction

 The controversy in this action surrounds provisions of the Pennsylvania No-Fault Motor Vehicle Insurance Act, 40 P.S. §§ 1009.101-701 (Purdon's Supp. 1981), that provide for payment of work loss benefits to persons who suffer injuries arising out of the maintenance or use of motor vehicles. 40 P.S. §§ 1009.201-202. The Act establishes minimum insurance coverage for specified victims or survivors of deceased victims. The basic loss benefits include allowable expenses, work loss, replacement services losses and survivors losses. 40 P.S. § 1009.202. As defined by the Act,

 
"Work loss" means:
 
(A) loss of gross income of a victim, as calculated pursuant to the provisions of section 205 of this act (40 P.S. § 1009.205); and
 
(B) reasonable expenses of a victim for hiring a substitute to perform self-employment services, thereby mitigating loss of income, or for hiring special help, thereby enabling a victim to work and mitigate loss of income.

 40 P.S. § 1009.103. Although numerous questions of statutory interpretation arose following passage of the Act, a significant issue involved whether a "deceased victim" could receive work loss benefits. While several lower state courts determined that work loss benefits were only available to victims who survive a motor vehicle accident, see, e.g., Pontius v. United States Fidelity & Guaranty Co., 100 Dauphin 133 (Pa.C.P.1978); Winegart v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co., No. 77-5-3437 (York County C.P., filed April 4, 1978); Anderson v. Nationwide Insurance Co., No. 76-19366 (Montgomery Co. C.P., filed February 24, 1978); Heffner v. Allstate Insurance Co., No. 76-3406 (Philadelphia County C.P., filed November 28, 1977); the Superior Court of Pennsylvania and the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania both concluded otherwise. Heffner v. Allstate Insurance Co., 265 Pa.Super.Ct. 181, 401 A.2d 1160 (1979), aff'd, 491 Pa. 447, 421 A.2d 629 (1980); Pontius v. United States Fidelity & Guaranty Co., No. 80 March Term, 1978 (Pa.Super.Ct., July 3, 1979), aff'd, 491 Pa. 447, 421 A.2d 629 (1980). In the action at bar, Plaintiffs contend that Defendants have refused to provide insurance coverage for work loss benefits of deceased victims and to make payment of such benefits to individuals entitled thereto even though the No-Fault Act mandates such minimum coverage. Specifically, Plaintiffs allege that, in furtherance of a conspiracy to restrain trade, Defendants have taken concerted action to

 
A. Join in a common plan of refusing or delaying payments of said benefits based on jointly conceived spurious legal grounds;
 
B. Refuse to compete in providing services such as payment of said benefits to policyholders;
 
C. Provide for a uniform defensive posture regardless of the differences in the policies of insurance issued by each of the Defendants;
 
D. Conceal from potential claimants their rights to bring claims for work loss benefits;
 
E. Restrain competition among themselves by refusing to compete in offering to potential customers and claimants competitive benefits or claims service with regard to decedent's work loss;
 
F. Conspire to (sic) fix the type and amount of claims services with regard to no-fault work loss benefits for decedents.

 Complaint, P 14.

 II. Plaintiffs' Claims Pursuant to 15 U.S.C. §§ 2, 3, 6 and 13

 In the complaint, Plaintiffs allege that this action is brought pursuant to 15 U.S.C. §§ 1 through 7, 13 and 15, as amended. Even if the court found that the complaint should not be otherwise dismissed, Plaintiffs have clearly failed to state a claim upon which relief can be granted based upon 15 U.S.C. §§ 2, 3, 6 and 13. 15 U.S.C. § 2 prohibits monopolies or attempts to monopolize. 15 U.S.C. § 3 affects only antitrust activities that involve a United States territory or the District of Columbia. 15 U.S.C. § 6 relates only to forfeiture of property in transit to the United States. Finally, 15 U.S.C. § 13 makes it unlawful to discriminate between different purchasers of commodities in prices, services or facilities. The court has reviewed the complaint and discovered no allegations that even vaguely hint at violations of those provisions. Moreover, Plaintiff has completely failed to respond to the ...


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