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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Ind. Decisions - Supreme Court decides one today

In Sarah Haag, Gordon Haag and Cathy Haag; Molly Kruger, William Kruger, III, and Katherine F. Kruger, et al. v. Mark Castro, The Indiana Youth Soccer Association, Virginia Surety Company, Inc., et al., a 13-page, 3-1 opinion, Justice Sullivan writes:

Players on a local youth soccer team seek to recover under the state youth soccer govern-ing association’s business auto-insurance policy for injuries sustained when the van in which they were riding was involved in an accident. Because the van was not being used in the busi-ness of the association, a condition for coverage under the insurance policy at issue, the injured players may not recover. * * *

The policy does not define “in the business of” and the Players argue that this creates an ambiguity that should be construed against the insurer. Of course, that a policy does not define a term does not necessarily make the term ambiguous. * * * We find that the IYSA’s organizational documents combined with widespread general familiarity with the business of sports governing bodies render the term unambiguous here. * * *

Because Castro was not using the automobile “in the business” of the IYSA, the policy provides no coverage. The judgment of the trial court is affirmed.
Shepard, C.J., concurs.
Rucker, J., concurs in result.
Dickson, J., dissents with separate opinion.
David, J., not participating.

[J. Dickson's dissent begins on p. 10 of 13, and concludes] Because I find that, under the facts of this case, a reasonable construction of the hired au-to endorsement supports coverage, which coverage is not diminished by the plain language of the second sentence of the provision, I would reverse the summary judgment entered in favor of the insurance company.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on January 10, 2012 11:44 AM
Posted to Ind. Sup.Ct. Decisions