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EDWIN G. ROBSON AND ELIZABETH ROBSON v. STATE FARM MUTUAL AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE COMPANY (11/09/84)

filed: November 9, 1984.

EDWIN G. ROBSON AND ELIZABETH ROBSON, HIS WIFE, APPELLANTS,
v.
STATE FARM MUTUAL AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE COMPANY, A CORPORATION, AND HARRY J. BECHMAN, III, AN INDIVIDUAL



No. 303 Pittsburgh, 1983, Appeal from the Judgment of the Court of Common Pleas, Civil Division-Law, of Allegheny County, at No. GD 81-15610

COUNSEL

Paul L. Hammer, Pittsburgh, for appellants.

Thomas F. Weis, Pittsburgh, for appellees.

Tamilia, Johnson and Montgomery, JJ.

Author: Montgomery

[ 335 Pa. Super. Page 367]

The Plaintiff-Appellants instituted the instant action in assumpsit, seeking to recover certain medical payments from the Defendant-Appellees, the Appellants' No-fault automobile insurance provider, and one of its employees. After proceedings which will be more fully discussed later in this Opinion, the lower court en banc entered an order granting the Appellees' motion for summary judgment with regard to a part of the Appellants' claims. The remainder of the Appellants' claims were then rejected, just before trial, by the entry of a compulsory non-suit by the trial judge. On this appeal, the Appellants challenged the propriety of the summary judgment as well as the non-suit entered against them.

The record shows that on February 27, 1981, the minor daughter of the Appellants received personal injuries in an automobile accident. At the time, the Appellant Mr. Robson was a named insured in a policy of No-fault automobile insurance issued by the Appellee, State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company. Normally, there would be no question that the Appellants' injured minor daughter would be eligible for medical payments coverage under the terms of such a No-fault policy. However, at some time prior to February 27, 1981, Mr. Robson apparently elected to have medical insurance provided through his employment be the primary coverage for any medical expenses incurred as a result of injuries arising from the use of a motor vehicle, which would otherwise be reimbursable under the Personal

[ 335 Pa. Super. Page 368]

Injury Protection portion of the No-fault automobile insurance policy then issued by the Appellee, State Farm.

After the accident in which his daughter was injured, Mr. Robson had a series of discussions with the Appellee Harry J. Bechman, III, a representative of State Farm. During these discussions Mr. Bechman, on one or more occasions, allegedly advised Mr. Robson that State Farm would pay him amounts for medical benefits, equivalent to the bills which had been or would be incurred by the Appellants' daughter as a result of her February 27, 1981 injuries. Subsequently, some months later, the Appellee insurer, through Bechman, advised Mr. Robson that State Farm would not make such payments, and took the position that the Appellants' health insurance coverage was primarily responsible, and should pay the bills.

The Appellants, as noted above, sought in this action to recover No-fault automobile insurance benefits, pursuant to their contract of insurance with State Farm, and alternatively, sought such a recovery against State Farm on a theory of estoppel, maintaining that they had detrimentally relied upon the assurances of payment which had been made. In that regard, they alleged they had incurred large debts, relying upon the expectation that State Farm was going to pay the amount of the medical bills. The Appellants also sought to recover damages from State Farm's representative, Mr. Bechman, on a theory which Appellants described as "breach of warranty of authority".

Prior to trial, both the Appellants and the Appellees filed motions for summary judgment. On November 10, 1982, the lower court en banc issued an order, denying the motion filed by the Appellants, but partially granting summary judgment to the Appellees, to the extent that the court determined as a matter of law that the Appellants' non-automobile medical insurance coverage was to be the primary source of coverage for the minor daughter's medical expenses. In its order, the lower court en ...


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