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SPRATELY v. AETNA CAS. & SUR. CO.

January 11, 1989

KEVIN SPRATELY, Plaintiff,
v.
AETNA CASUALTY & SURETY CO., Defendants, v. THE TRAVELERS, Defendants



The opinion of the court was delivered by: NEWCOMER

 CLARENCE C. NEWCOMER, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

 Plaintiff filed this action to force the defendant Aetna Casualty and Insurance Company ("Aetna") to appoint arbitrators for an insurance arbitration hearing. Plaintiff originally filed this action in the Pennsylvania Court of Common Pleas. Aetna subsequently removed the action to this Court pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1332 diversity of citizenship jurisdiction. Aetna joined The Travelers ("Travelers") as a third party defendant. Travelers provides automobile insurance to the plaintiff.

 I. Factual background.

 There is no dispute as to the issues before this Court. The case arises from an automobile accident which occurred on Route 202 in Wilmington, Delaware, on December 24, 1986. Kevin Spratley, the plaintiff, was a passenger in the automobile driven by Meldron Young, Jr. The vehicle was owned by Meldron Young, Sr. The Youngs reside in Delaware, and their vehicle is registered in Delaware. As required by Del. Code. Ann. tit. 18 § 3202 Mr. Young had obtained a policy from Aetna which provided for uninsured motorist coverage for the car.

 The accident occurred as Young, Jr. and Mr. Spratley were proceeding westbound on Route 202. Young observed a vehicle stopped, apparently disabled, blocking his lane. Young was able to stop his car before striking the disabled vehicle. Moments later, however, Young's car was struck from behind by a car driven by Juanita Tate. Tate's car then was struck by another car driven by Steven Simpson. This "second impact" forced Tate's car into Young's car which was propelled into the disabled vehicle. Mr. Spratley was injured as a result of the collisions.

 Plaintiff, a Pennsylvania resident, owns an automobile which is registered in Pennsylvania. Plaintiff insured his vehicle, at all times material to this case, with a policy issued by Travelers. The Travelers policy also provides for uninsured motorist coverage. The other cars involved were insured as follows: The disabled car and its driver were not insured. The Tate and Simpson vehicles, both registered in Delaware, were insured at the time of the accident. Plaintiff has not filed an action against Tate or Simpson. Travelers has not provided any insurance benefits to the plaintiff arising from this accident.

 II. Choice of law.

 The parties agree that Delaware substantive law applies in this matter. I concur. The choice of law rule of the forum in which a United States District Court is located governs the choice of law for actions in that court. Klaxon Co. v. Stentor Electric Manufacturing Co., 313 U.S. 487, 489, 85 L. Ed. 1477, 61 S. Ct. 1020 (1941); Shields v. Consolidated Rail Corporation, 810 F.2d 397, 399 (3d Cir. 1987). Therefore, Pennsylvania's choice of law principles determine which state's substantive law applies in any appropriate case heard in this Court.

 Pennsylvania employs, as its choice of law standard, what is known as the "significant relationship" test. Griffith v. United Airlines, Inc., 416 Pa. 1, 203 A.2d 796 (1964). See also Melville v. American Home Assurance Co., 584 F.2d 1306, 1311-13 (3d Cir. 1978). Pursuant to this test the state "having the most interest in the problem and which is most intimately concerned with the outcome is the forum whose law should apply." Breskman v. B.C.B. Inc., slip op. at 3 (E.D. Pa. September 26, 1988) (citing In re Complaint of Bankers Trust Co., 752 F.2d 874, 882 (3d Cir. 1984)).

 Under the "significant relationship" test, Delaware is the forum with the greatest interest in the outcome of this case. Aetna issued the policy at issue in Delaware to a Delaware resident. The uninsured motorist portion of the policy was written to be consistent with Delaware uninsured motorist insurance law as set forth in Delaware Code, Title 18 § 3202. The accident occurred in Delaware, and all drivers involved operated cars registered in Delaware.

 III. Discussion.

 The fundamental issue in resolving these motions for summary judgment is whether the plaintiff is precluded, at this time, pursuant to Mr. Young's insurance policy, from seeking uninsured motorist benefits from Aetna. For its part, Aetna claims that the policy at issue requires ...


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