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C. CRAIG RIFE v. STATE FARM MUTUAL AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE COMPANY (09/10/82)

filed: September 10, 1982.

C. CRAIG RIFE, APPELLANT,
v.
STATE FARM MUTUAL AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE COMPANY



No. 1551 Philadelphia, 1980, Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas, Civil Division, of Philadelphia County at No. 1789 May Term, 1979.

COUNSEL

Catherine M. Harper, Philadelphia, for appellant.

Peter J. Hoffman, Philadelphia, for appellee.

Wickersham, Beck and Popovich, JJ. Beck, J., concurs in the result.

Author: Popovich

[ 304 Pa. Super. Page 360]

This is an appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, per Calvin T. Wilson, Judge, granting appellee's, State Farm Mutual Insurance Co.'s, cross-motion for summary judgment. We affirm.

[ 304 Pa. Super. Page 361]

This case presents this Court with another opportunity to unravel and interpret the scope of Pennsylvania's No-Fault Insurance Act (40 P.S. ยง 1009.101 et seq.), and the seemingly myriad of (sometimes unusual) factual situations which have arisen in its application.

Instantly, as conceded by the appellant, C. Craig Rife, the facts are undisputed, the only stumbling block being the applicability of the law to the facts. On August 7, 1978, a few minutes after 8:00 p. m., Lt. Charles Schlernitzauer was in the VIP parking lot at Philadelphia International Airport issuing a ticket for an illegally parked vehicle. Before the officer had completed writing the ticket, appellant arrived, "began to scream and shout . . . and . . . repeated several times that you are not giving me no god damn ticket." (N.T. 8/16/78 at 1) This raucous behavior by the appellant escalated to the point where he began to strike the officer, "once in the face a couple [of] times, and then in the body." Id. at 2. Appellant also grabbed the ticket book and began to tear it. When the officer tried to retrieve the book, appellant struck him a couple of more times in the body. The officer reacted by drawing his blackjack, and, then, the officer "struck Rife twice up around the shoulder and the head area. He dropped the ticket book and pushed and struck [the officer] a couple more times, and he ran to his car, got in and locked the door." Id. at 3. The appellant pulled out from his parking space with the officer in pursuit -- prior thereto, the officer had radioed for assistance. As appellant sought to leave the lot, an Officer Mongelli had to jump out of the way of the moving vehicle to avoid being struck. At this point, two shots were fired by Officer Mongelli at the left rear tire of appellant's vehicle to retard his movement. However, the appellant managed to elude the bullets, exited the lot, jumped a curb in the process and then made a right hand turn, going the wrong way, on to the entrance road to the airport.

The scenario continues with the appellant making a second right hand turn, jumping a curb and a traffic island and driving through a four-foot high chain link fence into a

[ 304 Pa. Super. Page 362]

    parking area reserved for rental car companies. Because of the officer's call for assistance, Officer Almond was monitoring the progress of the chase and had stationed himself in an area where appellant was reported heading. After the appellant drove through the fence, Officer Almond saw the vehicle coming directly at him. The officer held his hands up in a manner directing the appellant to stop. However, the appellant failed to slow down. The officer responded by "pull[ing his] revolver and jump[ing] to the side to keep from being hit from the vehicle and fired three shots in the right front window." Id. at 24. Thereafter, the vehicle ran into a barricade and appellant's attempt to drive over the barrier proved futile. At this point, Lt. Schlernitzauer arrived on the scene and had to resort to breaking the windshield of appellant's vehicle to get him out. When the police noticed that appellant had sustained a bullet wound to his right arm, he was transported to the hospital for treatment.*fn1

Appellant, as a result of injuries incurred in the course of operating the vehicle, filed a claim with the appellee insurance company seeking recoupment of the monies expended for "procuring medical treatment for his injuries." Appellee refused to honor the claim. In response thereto, ...


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