Appeal from the Judgment of the Court of Common Pleas of Washington County, Civil Division at No. 14 May Term 1983 AD. Appeal from the Judgment of the Court of Common Pleas of Washington County, Civil Division at No. 15 May Term 1983 AD.
Barbara B. Carl, Pittsburgh, for Prudential, appellant.
Douglas R. Nolin, Washington, for State Farm, appellee.
Brosky, Popovich and Montgomery, JJ. Montgomery, J., concurs in the result.
[ 387 Pa. Super. Page 312]
This case involves an appeal from the October 3, 1988, order of the Court of Common Pleas of Washington County denying the motion for post-trial relief of the appellant/The Prudential Property & Casualty Insurance Company (hereinafter
[ 387 Pa. Super. Page 313]
Prudential).*fn1 We reverse in a case of first impression.
The facts of record indicate that, on May 29, 1982, Gary L. Stump was killed while a passenger in a vehicle involved in an accident on U.S. Route 40, east of Uniontown, Pennsylvania.
At the time of the accident, Gary was a resident in the household of his father, John M. Stump. The Stump family had three (3) vehicles, none of which was involved in the accident but all were titled in the name of John M. Stump. Two of the vehicles were insured with State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company (hereinafter State Farm), i.e., a 1973 Chevrolet half-ton pickup truck and a 1976 Pontiac Grand Prix. The third vehicle, a 1977 Ford F-100 pickup truck, was covered by Prudential.
John M. Stump, as the administrator for the estate of Gary L. Stump, presented a claim for post-mortem benefits to Prudential and State Farm under the now repealed Pennsylvania No-Fault Motor Vehicle Insurance Act (hereinafter Act).*fn2 Prudential paid the total post-mortem nofault benefits to Gary's estate: $10,000 work loss, $5,000 survivor's losses, and $1,500 funeral expenses. State Farm refused to contribute toward the payment of these benefits.
As a result, Prudential, as an original defendant in a lawsuit instituted by the Estate of Gary L. Stump,*fn3 was able to join State Farm as an additional defendant. It was Prudential's contention that its payment of all of the nofault benefits, given decedent's status as an "insured"
[ 387 Pa. Super. Page 314]
under multiple policies, entitled it to receive reimbursement or indemnification for two-thirds (2/3) of the payments made in accordance with Section 204 of the Act. After the dispute went to trial, Prudential's request for reimbursement was denied. Post-trial motions were filed, argued and denied. Thereafter, upon praecipe of State Farm, the order denying post-trial motions was reduced to judgment and this appeal ensued.
The single issue raised for our consideration is one of whether, under the applicable provisions of the Act and the facts at bar, the decedent's post-mortem benefits are recoverable from the appellant only.
In resolving the question posed, we begin by examining the pertinent provisions of the Act under Section 204, which provide in part:
§ 204. Source of basic restoration benefits.
(a) Applicable security -- The security for the payment of basic loss benefits applicable to an injury to:
(2) an insured is the security under which the victim or deceased victim is insured . . . .
(b) Multiple sources of equal property. If two or more obligations to pay basic loss benefits apply equally to an injury under the priorities set forth in subsection (a) of this section, the obligor against whom a claim is asserted shall first process and pay the claim as if wholly responsible. Such obligor is thereafter entitled to recover contribution prorata from any other such obligor for the basic loss benefits paid and for the costs of processing the claim.
40 P.S. § 1009.204(a)(2), (b) (Repealed).
The term "insured" is defined by the Act at Section 103:
(A) an individual indemnified by name as an insured in a contract of basic loss insurance complying with this act; and
(B) a spouse or other relative of a named insured, . . . --
[ 387 Pa. Super. Page 315]
(i) not identified by name as an insured in any other contract of basic restoration insurance complying with this act; and
(ii) in residence in the same household with the named insured.
40 P.S. § 1009.103 (Repealed).
The next step in our analysis is an examination of the insurance policies in effect at the time of Gary's death, the interpretation of which is a question of law for the Court, and, where the language of a contract of insurance is clear and unambiguous, a court is required to give effect to that language. Duffy v. Nationwide Insurance Co., 374 Pa. Super. 55, 57, 542 A.2d 144, 145 (1988).
Instantly, Prudential's declaration sheet on the 1977 Ford F-100 pickup truck listed the "names insured" as "John M. Stump". The vehicle operators were identified as "John M. Stump", No. 1 and "Gary Lee Stump", No. 2. The policy that accompanied the insurance issued by Prudential provided at page 6 of the "introduction" that:
This policy is a contract between you and us. Throughout this policy, when we refer to "you," we mean you, the person shown as the named insured on the Declarations Page of this policy, and your spouse, if he or she lives in your household. When we refer to "we" or "us," we mean Prudential Property and Casualty Insurance Company . . . . (Emphasis added)
Under the same heading, "introduction", reference was made to "endorsements" appearing on the Declaration Page being considered as part of one's policy.
The "named insured" under Prudential's policy had elected additional coverage, evidence of which appears on the declaration sheet. The substance of the added coverage elected by the insured is not herein germane, but it requires mentioning that the insurer had "exclusions" for which coverage did not apply; e.g.,
Relatives Who Have Their Own Auto Insurance
[ 387 Pa. Super. Page 316]
(c) any relative entitled to Pennsylvania personal injury protection coverage as a self-insurer or as a named insured in another insurance policy;
Where an "eligible person" sustained bodily injury due to an accident involving a motor vehicle, Prudential obligated itself to pay all personal injury protection benefits. "Eligible person" was ...