No. 21 Pittsburgh, 1980, Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Civil Division, at No. G.D. 79-4531
George M. Weis, Pittsburgh, for appellant.
Louis M. Tarasi, Jr., Pittsburgh, for appellees.
Hester, Brosky and Van der Voort, JJ.
[ 305 Pa. Super. Page 56]
This appeal concerns the availability of duplicate benefits to an insured under the Pennsylvania No-Fault Motor Vehicle Insurance Act.*fn1 Specifically, the appellant, West American Insurance Company, hereinafter WAI, seeks a determination
[ 305 Pa. Super. Page 57]
with reference to its rights of subrogation to the damages flowing from a products liability suit where duplicate benefits are sought by the insured which arise out of the accident on which basic loss benefits have been paid. For the reasons which follow, we will affirm the declaratory judgment of the trial court which did not permit subrogation.
On June 18, 1976, appellee, Debra Oberding, was seriously injured when her automobile, a Ford Pinto, was driven into from the rear by another vehicle. Oberding was insured by WAI which has paid basic loss benefits to her under the No-Fault Act in excess of $60,000. Ms. Oberding subsequently filed suit against the manufacturer of her car, Ford Motor Company, Inc., hereinafter Ford, the seller and servicer of her vehicle, Phil Fitts Ford, hereinafter Fitts Ford, and the operator of the automobile which struck her, Mrs. Debra Lynn Simmons. In the court below, WAI filed an action seeking declaratory relief regarding the existence of and their right to subrogation against any recovery Ms. Oberding may realize against Ford, or Fitts Ford.
The insurer's right to subrogation is found in Section 111 of the No-Fault Act. It provides in pertinent part:
(a) Reimbursement and subrogation. --
(1) Except as provided in paragraphs (2) and (3) of this subsection, an obligor:
(A) does not have and may not contract, directly or indirectly, in whole or in part, for a right of reimbursement from or subrogation to the proceeds of a victim's claim for a relief or to a victim's cause of action for non-economic detriment; and
(B) may not directly or indirectly contract for any right or reimbursement based upon a determination of fault from any other obligor not acting as a reinsurer for no-fault benefits which it has paid or is obliged to pay as a result of injury to a victim.
(2) Whenever an individual who receives or is entitled to receive no-fault benefits for an injury has a claim or cause of action against any other person causing the
[ 305 Pa. Super. Page 58]
injury as based upon a determination of fault, the obligor is subrogated to the rights of the claimant only for:
(A) elements of damage compensated for by security for the payment of no-fault benefits in excess of the minimum basic loss benefits required under this act are recoverable; and
(B) the obligor has paid or become obligated to pay accrued or future no-fault benefits in excess of the minimum basic loss ...