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JAMES DUFFY v. NATIONWIDE INSURANCE COMPANY (05/26/88)

filed: May 26, 1988.

JAMES DUFFY, ADMINISTRATOR OF THE ESTATE OF MICHAEL BLAZOWICH, APPELLANT,
v.
NATIONWIDE INSURANCE COMPANY



Appeal from the Judgment of the Court of Common Pleas, Civil Division, of Allegheny County at No. G.D. 87-372.

COUNSEL

JoAnne Weber, Pittsburgh, for appellant.

Alan H. Perer, Pittsburgh, for appellee.

Tamilia, Popovich and Hoffman, JJ.

Author: Popovich

[ 374 Pa. Super. Page 56]

This is an appeal from the order (later reduced to judgment) of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County entering summary judgment against the appellant, James Duffy, Administrator of the Estate of Michael Blazowich. We affirm in a case of first impression.

As an appellate court, our role in reviewing an order granting a summary judgment has been oft-stated; e.g.:

Summary judgment is made available by Pa.R.C.P. 1035 when the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, admissions on file and supporting affidavits considered together reveal no genuine issue of material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Husak v. Berkel, Inc., 234 Pa. Super. 452, 341 A.2d 174 (1975). To determine the absence of a genuine issue of material fact, we must view the evidence in the light most favorable to the non-moving party and any doubts must be resolved against the entry of judgment. Id. In so doing, we accept as true all well-pleaded facts in appellant's pleadings and give appellant the benefit of all reasonable inferences to be drawn therefrom. Spain v. Vicente, 315 Pa. Super. 135, 461 A.2d 833 (1983). Summary judgment is appropriate only in those cases which are clear and free from doubt. Id.

Harris v. Easton Publishing Co., 335 Pa. Super. 141, 152, 483 A.2d 1377, 1382-83 (1984).

Viewed under the aforementioned standard, the undisputed facts are that the appellant's decedent, while walking across a roadway, was struck and killed by the driver

[ 374 Pa. Super. Page 57]

(Robert Crupie, Jr.) of a vehicle insured with the appellee, Nationwide Insurance Company. The policy (at Option 3) specifically limited payment of Accidental Death Benefits (ADB) to the named insured (Crupie) and his relatives. Because the appellant's decedent did not come under either heading, a complaint was filed seeking to recover ADB under the policy of insurance issued to Crupie. Each party filed a motion for summary judgment. Thereafter, the court below entered judgment in favor of the appellee and against the appellant. With the reduction of the order to judgment, an appeal to this Court was perfected.

The sole issue for our consideration is whether the policy of insurance issued to Crupie by the appellee, limiting, as it does, the recovery of ADB to the named insured and his relatives is at odds with the applicable provisions of the Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility Law, 75 Pa.C.S.A. ยง 1701 et seq. (Supp.1987-88).

We start our inquiry by noting our agreement with the appellee that the interpretation of an insurance policy is a question of law for the Court. Adelman v. State Farm Mutual Auto. Ins. Co., 255 Pa. Super. 116, 386 A.2d 535, 538 (1978). Having so stated, we note that "where . . . the language of [a] . . . contract [of insurance] is clear and unambiguous, a court is required to give effect to that ...


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