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ALFRED MANHEIM v. STATE FARM MUTUAL AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE COMPANY (12/17/86)

filed: December 17, 1986.

ALFRED MANHEIM, PERSONAL REPRESENTATIVE AND ADMINISTRATOR OF THE ESTATE OF IDA ROSIN, DECEASED, AND MARCIA ABRAMSOHN AND SARA-JANE ROSIN, APPELLANTS,
v.
STATE FARM MUTUAL AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE COMPANY



Appeal from the order entered February 13, 1986 in the Court of Common Pleas of Bucks County, Civil Division, at No. 83-3464-15-1.

COUNSEL

Miriam M. Reimel, Bristol, for appellants.

Fredric O. Rubin, Morrisville, for appellee.

Wickersham, Olszewski and Beck, JJ.

Author: Beck

[ 359 Pa. Super. Page 224]

This is an action in assumpsit against an insurance company for denial of benefits claimed under an automobile insurance policy. On May 17, 1981, Ida Rosin, a domiciliary of Florida, was killed in an automobile accident in Pennsylvania while riding in a car driven by her daughter, Marcia Abramsohn. Abramsohn, the driver, was covered by an insurance policy with appellee State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company (State Farm).

Ida Rosin's estate submitted to State Farm claims for payment of various bills under Marcia Abramsohn's policy. State Farm paid Ida Rosin's medical and funeral expenses but denied a claim for work loss benefits. The estate and

[ 359 Pa. Super. Page 225]

    two heirs (appellants) filed a complaint in assumpsit alleging that State Farm is contractually obligated to pay work loss benefits to Ida Rosin's estate. Both parties filed motions for summary judgment, which the trial court denied.

An arbitration panel found in favor of State Farm, and appellants appealed to the court of common pleas, which heard argument on legal issues. The court found that, because Abramsohn's policy referred to the Pennsylvania No-Fault Act and the decedent was a domiciliary of Florida, the Florida No-Fault Law controlled by application of the choice-of-law provision of the Pennsylvania statute. The Florida No-Fault Law does not permit work loss benefits when the victim dies as a result of the accident. Thus, the trial court issued an order that "the plaintiff is not entitled to work loss benefits and we find in favor of defendant." The court denied post-trial relief. Judgment was entered, and this timely appeal followed. We reverse and remand for trial.

On appeal, appellants have preserved two issues: (1) whether the trial court erred in considering State Farm's defense that was based on Ida Rosin's Florida domicile when that defense was not included in State Farm's denial letter; and (2) whether the trial court erred by failing to find that the insurance contract, rather than the Pennsylvania and Florida no-fault statutes, controlled and allowed work loss benefits.*fn1

Both of appellants' issues on appeal relate to State Farm's single basis for denying work loss benefits. State Farm's basis is that because Ida Rosin was a domiciliary of Florida, the Pennsylvania courts must apply the Florida Motor Vehicle No-Fault Law, which, as ...


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