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FLORENCE CHATHAM v. AETNA LIFE & CASUALTY COMPANY AND STATE FARM MUTUAL INSURANCE COMPANY. APPEAL AETNA LIFE & CASUALTY COMPANY (12/13/89)

filed: December 13, 1989.

FLORENCE CHATHAM, AN INDIVIDUAL,
v.
AETNA LIFE & CASUALTY COMPANY AND STATE FARM MUTUAL INSURANCE COMPANY. APPEAL OF AETNA LIFE & CASUALTY COMPANY



Appeal from the Judgment of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Civil Division at No. GD 88-18628.

COUNSEL

Timothy J. Burdette, Pittsburgh, for appellant.

Loraine, S. Tabakin, Pittsburgh, for Chatham, appellee.

Frank M. Gianola, Pittsburgh, for State Farm, appellee.

McEwen, Popovich and Montgomery, JJ.

Author: Popovich

[ 391 Pa. Super. Page 54]

This case involves an appeal from the order of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County granting judgment on the pleadings in favor of the plaintiff/appellee Florence Chatham (Chatham) and against the defendant/appellant Aetna Life & Casualty Company (Aetna).*fn1 We affirm.

On October 25, 1988, Chatham filed a Complaint For Declaratory Judgment pursuant to 42 Pa.C.S. § 7513 et seq. Therein, she alleged that on November 8, 1984, she sustained serious injuries while driving a vehicle in the course of her employment. In particular, she was struck in the rear by an uninsured motorist.

The plaintiff's employer carried uninsured motorist insurance on the vehicle with Aetna. Also, the plaintiff was a named insured on two other uninsured motorist policies issued to her by State Farm Mutual Insurance Company. See footnote 1.

[ 391 Pa. Super. Page 55]

After the collision, Chatham pursued her workmen's compensation claim and is presently receiving remuneration thereunder. Additionally, the plaintiff submitted a claim with Aetna for uninsured motorist benefits. But she was refused such coverage by Aetna, which did so on the basis of the Supreme Court's ruling in Lewis v. School District of Page 55} Philadelphia, 517 Pa. 461, 538 A.2d 862 (1988). It was Aetna's contention that under Lewis, an employee injured in the course of his/her employment was limited to recovery under the provisions of the Workmen's Compensation Act,*fn2 and he/she could not also recover uninsured motorist benefits through the employer's carrier.

Because of the existence of a bona fide question of law concerning whether the Lewis ruling controlled the plaintiff's claim, she requested the entry of a declaratory judgment by the court to resolve the controversy.

In response to the declaratory judgment requested, Aetna filed an answer and new matter in which it admitted declining to pay uninsured motorist benefits under an insurance policy issued to the plaintiff's employer. It did so on the basis of the Workmen's Compensation Act (see 77 P.S. § 481) being the sole and exclusive liability of an employer or its insurance company in the payment of benefits to an employee/claimant, i.e., Aetna, as an insurer for the plaintiff's employer, could not ...


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