Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

HARTFORD INS. CO. v. BLACKBURN

January 13, 1989

HARTFORD INSURANCE COMPANY, Plaintiff
v.
ZACHARY BLACKBURN, Defendant


J. William Ditter, Jr., United States District Judge.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: DITTER

J. WILLIAM DITTER, JR., UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

 Plaintiff, Hartford Insurance Company, seeks a declaration that its insured, Zachary Blackburn, was not involved in an accident with an uninsured motorist and that it has no duty to arbitrate Blackburn's claim for uninsured motorist's benefits. On June 14, 1988, I issued an order denying Blackburn's motion to dismiss. Hartford subsequently filed a motion for summary judgment. There being no material facts in dispute, the question of whether Blackburn was involved in an accident with an uninsured motorist is one of law. See Myers v. State Farm Ins. Co., 842 F.2d 705, 707 (3d Cir. 1988).

 FACTS

 When Blackburn informed the woman that he was going to call the police, she told him that she was in a hurry. He asked the woman to wait, and began to walk towards a restaurant in order to use the pay telephone. While the woman at first seemed to be walking in the same direction as Blackburn, she suddenly turned around, rushed back to her car, and drove away. Blackburn attempted to chase her on foot in order to verify the license tag number she had given him, but he was unable to reach her. Blackburn obtained the name and phone number of a man who witnessed the incident.

 Although Blackburn did not call the police, he called his attorney two days after the accident occurred and told him what had happened. Blackburn could not recall the name that the woman had given him, and a search for a vehicle registered under the tag number she had given him proved fruitless. *fn1" When Blackburn attempted to contact the witness to the accident, the witness's phone had been disconnected.

 Blackburn's car sustained damage as a result of the accident and Blackburn alleges that he suffered personal injury as well. He filed a claim with Hartford for uninsured motorists coverage which Hartford denied, asserting that the unidentified woman was not an "uninsured motorist" under the terms of Blackburn's policy. When Blackburn attempted to compel arbitration, Hartford filed this declaratory judgment action.

 DISCUSSION

 As this diversity action was filed in the federal district court sitting in Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania's choice of law rules govern. Klaxon Co. v. Stentor Electric Mfg. Co., 313 U.S. 487, 496, 85 L. Ed. 1477, 61 S. Ct. 1020 (1941). In contract actions, Pennsylvania courts apply the standard set forth in Griffith v. United Air Lines, Inc., 416 Pa. 1, 203 A.2d 796 (1964), which combines an "interest analysis" approach with the "most significant relationship" test of the Second Restatement of Contracts. See Melville v. American Home Assurance Co. 584 F.2d 1306, 1311 (3d Cir. 1978). In this case, the accident occurred in Pennsylvania; the insured is a resident of Pennsylvania; and the insurer does business in the Commonwealth. Accordingly, Pennsylvania law governs resolution of the declaratory judgment action.

 The relevant portion of Blackburn's policy states that the insurer "will pay damages which a covered person is legally entitled to recover from the owner or operator of an uninsured motor vehicle because of bodily injury:

 1. Sustained by a covered person ; and

 2. Caused by an accident."

 Compl. Exh. A (emphasis in original). It is undisputed that Blackburn is a "covered person" under the policy and that his injury was "caused by an accident." One of the policy's definitions of "uninsured motor vehicle" is "a hit and run vehicle whose operator or owner cannot be identified." Id. Hartford alleges that this case does not present a situation in which the driver of the other vehicle could not have been identified. It claims that in order for a vehicle to be considered "hit and run," the driver must immediately leave the scene of the accident. Hartford contends that Blackburn had "ample opportunity" to question the other driver and to obtain the ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.