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ROBIN SEARFOSS v. AVIS RENT-A-CAR SYSTEMS (01/24/86)

filed: January 24, 1986.

ROBIN SEARFOSS, RICHARD H. PATERSON AND IDE AIR EQUIPMENT, INC., APPELLANTS,
v.
AVIS RENT-A-CAR SYSTEMS, INC., APPELLEE



Appeal from the Order entered on October 5, 1984 in the Court of Common Pleas of Luzerne County, Civil No. 3487-C of 1982.

COUNSEL

Michael R. Mey, Wilkes-Barre, for appellants.

James Harris, Wilkes-Barre, for appellee.

Spaeth,*fn* President Judge, and McEwen and Beck, JJ.

Author: Mcewen

[ 349 Pa. Super. Page 484]

This is an appeal from a declaratory judgment entered in favor of appellee, Avis Rent-A-Car Systems, Inc. ("Avis"), and against appellants after the distinguished Judge Patrick J. Toole, Jr. construed the terms of the car rental agreement entered into between Avis and Richard H. Paterson, Sr. and concluded that Avis had no duty to defend or to provide liability coverage under the terms of the rental agreement. We affirm in this case of first impression in Pennsylvania.

Appellants claim that the operation of the rental vehicle by Richard Harter Paterson, Jr. was a permitted use under the rental agreement and thus, was a use covered by the insurance policy described in the rental agreement. Specifically, appellants in their brief contend:

A. The provision of the lease between Avis and Richard H. Paterson cannot be used by Avis to evade its coverage responsibilities under the lease as interpreted in the light of the No-fault Act and its financial responsibility requirements.

B. Exclusionary clauses on which Avis seeks to rely to avoid coverage of the vehicle cannot apply for failure to notify the insured, Richard H. Paterson, of their existence and effect.

[ 349 Pa. Super. Page 485]

C. The inconsistencies between the paragraph containing the age restriction and the paragraph labeled "Exclusions" in the rental agreement renders the rental agreement ambiguous and requires strict construction of coverage thereunder in favor of coverage of Richard H. Paterson, Jr., as an insured at the time of the accident.

D. The age reference in the rental agreement is not a "limitation" which limits or excludes liability for insurance coverage.

E. The terms of the rental agreement as limitations on its coverage must be strictly construed against its ...


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