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Erie Ins. Group v. Catania

Superior Court of Pennsylvania

June 30, 2014

ERIE INSURANCE GROUP, Appellee
v.
JACK C. CATANIA, JR. AND DEBORAH ANN CATANIA, Appellants

Page 321

Appeal from the Judgment Entered June 5, 2013, In the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Civil Division, at No. G.D. 11-011713.

BEFORE: SHOGAN, OLSON and WECHT, JJ.

OPINION

Page 322

SHOGAN, J.:

Appellants, Jack C. Catania, Jr. and Deborah Ann Catania, appeal from the judgment entered on June 5, 2013, in the declaratory judgment action initiated by Appellee, Erie Insurance Group (" Erie" ). We affirm.

On August 15, 2009, Jack C. Catania, Jr. (" Catania" ) was injured when, while driving a delivery truck in the course of his employment, he swerved to avoid another vehicle and lost control of the truck. Catania sustained injuries as a result of the accident. The other vehicle fled the scene. At the time of the accident, Catania had a personal policy of insurance with Erie. Because the other vehicle fled the scene, it was considered an uninsured motor vehicle under the policy, and Catania made a claim for uninsured motorist coverage.

On November 22, 2010, Erie denied the claim. Erie cited the " regularly used non-owned vehicle" exclusion as its basis for the denial. On June 27, 2011, Erie filed a declaratory judgment action in the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas. On June 5, 2013, the trial court held that Erie had no duty to provide coverage to Appellants and entered judgment in Erie's favor. Appellants filed a timely appeal.

On appeal, Appellants claim that the trial court erred in granting Erie's motion for declaratory judgment and raise the following issues:

1. Whether the record supported the Lower Court's conclusion that the " regularly used non-owned vehicle" exclusion in Erie's policy is applicable based upon the stipulated facts of record and the reasonable expectations of the insured.
2. Whether the Lower Court erred in concluding that Appellee, Erie Insurance Exchange (" Erie" ), was not required to submit proof that its premium failed to compensate it for the risk of paying uninsured motorist benefits to Appellant, Jack C. Catania, Jr. who was injured while operating his employer's bread delivery truck.

Appellants' Brief at 4.[1]

The standard of review is as follows:

Our standard of review in a declaratory judgment action is limited to determining whether the trial court clearly abused its discretion or committed an error of law. We may not substitute our judgment for that of the trial court ...

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