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PROVIDENCE WASHINGTON INSURANCE COMPANY v. RUTH ROSATO (05/11/84)

filed: May 11, 1984.

PROVIDENCE WASHINGTON INSURANCE COMPANY
v.
RUTH ROSATO, ADMINISTRATRIX OF THE ESTATE OF MARISSA ROSATO AND MICHAEL J. COYLE. APPEAL OF RUTH ROSATO, ADMINISTRATRIX OF THE ESTATE OF MARISSA ROSATO



No. 1583 Phl 1982, Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, Civil Division, at No. 1900 Nov. Term, 1981.

COUNSEL

Edward F. Silva, Philadelphia, for appellant.

Ed McCandless, Philadelphia, for appellee.

Cavanaugh, McEwen and Hoffman, JJ.

Author: Hoffman

[ 328 Pa. Super. Page 292]

The question presented on appeal is whether a passenger in a vehicle insured under a "garage fleet policy" can stack or cumulate uninsured motorist coverages where (1) the policy limits liability to single coverage, (2) she is not a named insured or premium payor under the policy, and (3) she is an insured only because she was occupying the insured vehicle. We hold that she cannot stack uninsured motorist coverages and, accordingly, affirm the order of the court below.

On October 14, 1979, at approximately 1:30 a.m., Michael Coyle was operating a motorcycle on Conestoga Road in Radnor, Pennsylvania, when he was struck from behind by a negligently operated uninsured vehicle. Both Coyle and his passenger, Marissa Rosato, sustained injuries. Rosato's injuries resulted in her death approximately 18 hours after the accident. Coyle's motorcycle was owned by his employer, Wright Enterprises, Inc. d/b/a Devon Honda (Devon Honda), a motorcycle dealer. Coyle had borrowed the motorcycle for personal purposes, unrelated to Devon Honda's business. The motorcycle bore dealer tags registered to Devon Honda and was one of ten motorcycles insured by Devon Honda under a "garage fleet policy" with appellee, Providence Washington Insurance Company. The policy provided uninsured motorist coverage on each motorcycle of $15,000 for each person and $30,000 for each accident. Subsequent to an arbitration hearing held on October 14, 1981, the arbitrators, on October 21, determined that cumulative coverages existed in the amount of $150,000/300,000 (multiplying the ten dealership tags by the minimum financial responsibility limits) and awarded $32,500 to Coyle and $150,000 to appellant, Ruth Rosato, as administratrix of the estate of Marissa Rosato. On November 12, 1981, appellee petitioned to modify the arbitrators' award, alleging that the arbitrators committed an error of law in permitting cumulative coverage. On May 20, 1982,

[ 328 Pa. Super. Page 293]

    the lower court modified the arbitration award by reducing Rosato's award to $15,000, the minimum coverage.*fn1 This appeal followed.

The Pennsylvania Uninsured Motorist Act provides, in relevant part:

No motor vehicle liability policy of insurance insuring against loss resulting from liability imposed by law for bodily injury or death suffered by any person arising out of the ownership, maintenance or use of a motor vehicle shall be delivered or issued for delivery in this State with respect to any motor vehicle registered or principally garaged in this State, unless coverage is provided therein or supplemental thereto in limits for bodily injury or death as are fixed from time to time by the General Assembly in section 1421 of article XIV of "The Vehicle Code", act of April 29, 1959 (P.L. 58), under provisions approved by the Insurance Commissioner, for the protection of persons insured thereunder who are legally entitled to recover damages from owners or operators of uninsured motor vehicles because of bodily injury, sickness or disease, including death resulting therefrom, . . . .

40 P.S. ยง 2000(a) (footnote omitted) (emphasis added). The legislative intent behind this act was noted by our Supreme Court in Harleysville Mutual Casualty Company v. Blumling, 429 Pa. 389, 241 A.2d 112 (1968):

The purpose of the uninsured motorist law is to provide protection to innocent victims of irresponsible drivers. The amount of the coverage to be afforded by the uninsured motorist feature of the policy is set by the statute, ...


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