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DELORIS B. SOLES v. PENNSYLVANIA NATIONAL MUTUAL INSURANCE COMPANY (04/05/88)

filed: April 5, 1988.

DELORIS B. SOLES, APPELLEE,
v.
PENNSYLVANIA NATIONAL MUTUAL INSURANCE COMPANY, APPELLANT



Appeal from the Order entered March 30, 1987 in the Court of Common Pleas of Centre County, Civil Division, at No. 86-666.

COUNSEL

James M. Horne, State College, for appellant.

Joseph P. Green, Bellefonte, for appellee.

Olszewski, Del Sole and Johnson, JJ. Johnson, J., files a dissenting opinion.

Author: Del Sole

[ 372 Pa. Super. Page 606]

This appeal follows the trial court's ruling on cross motions for Summary Judgment. Summary Judgment in favor of Appellee, Plaintiff in the underlying action, was granted; while a like motion filed by the Appellant, defendant, was denied.

[ 372 Pa. Super. Page 607]

A unique factual circumstance provides the basis for the instant litigation. On January 17, 1985, Appellee was traveling as a passenger in a Renault Alliance when that vehicle was involved in an accident. Appellee suffered injuries and received benefits from Allstate Insurance Company, which had issued Appellee a policy of insurance covering a Jeep vehicle she owned. The Allstate policy was drafted in accordance with the Pennsylvania Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility Law, 75 Pa.C.S.A. ยง 1701 et seq., hereinafter MVFRL. Since Appellee's expenses exceeded the amount she collected under the Allstate policy, she sought to have Appellant compensate her under the terms of a policy it had issued to the owner of the Renault Alliance. This insurance agreement was made prior to October 1, 1984, pursuant to the now repealed Pennsylvania No-Fault Motor Vehicle Insurance Act.*fn1 After Appellant refused to tender benefits, this action was commenced.

Appellant cites three reasons to support its dispute of the trial court's ruling requiring it to compensate Appellee. It is Appellant's position that (1) the Financial Responsibility Law expressly prohibits Appellee from recovering these benefits from Appellant; (2) the No-Fault Act has been interpreted as prohibiting the "stacking" of these sought-after first party benefits; and (3) the terms of Appellant's policy expressly preclude recovery under these circumstances. Upon review of the record, including the policies at issue, and the applicable law, we conclude Appellant's challenges to the trial court's ruling must be dismissed as meritless.

It is first claimed that Appellee is not entitled to recover benefits from Appellant because the MVFRL expressly prohibits Appellee from looking beyond her own policy for the recovery of first party benefits. Appellee points to the terms of the MVRFL since it "had become effective at the time of the accident which [gave] rise to

[ 372 Pa. Super. Page 608]

Plaintiff's claim." Appellant's Brief at 6. It is Appellant's position that the limitations on the "stacking" of benefits provided in Section 1717 of the MVFRL apply where a plaintiff seeks to recover expenses resulting from an accident which occurred after the effective date of the MVFRL. However, the date on which the accident occurred is not critical to Appellee's claim against Appellant. Appellee is seeking recovery based upon a policy Appellant had issued to the owner of the vehicle in which she was riding. This policy was issued pursuant to the No-fault Act. "The express language of Section 9 of Act 11 clearly indicates that the legislature intended that the new Financial Responsibility Law would only apply to insurance policies issued on renewed on or after October 1, 1984. In so providing the legislature recognized that policies issued prior to October 1, 1984 would remain subject to the provisions of the repealed No-fault Act until such policies were renewed subsequent to the effective date of the Financial Responsibility Law." Borysowski v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company, 368 Pa. Super. 399, 534 A.2d 496 (1987). Accordingly, the policy at issue is to be interpreted in accordance with the provisions of the repealed No-fault Act.

More puzzling, however, is Appellant's claim that the No-fault Act and the terms of its policy prohibit Appellee from recovering under this factual situation. The policy at issue provided personal injury protection with no maximum amount for medical expenses and a maximum of $15,000.00 for work loss for those eligible persons who sustained bodily injury due to an accident resulting from the maintenance or use of a motor vehicle as a vehicle. The definition of an eligible person included "any other person who sustains injury while occupying . . . the insured motor vehicle." Appellee would therefore appear to ...


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