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Court of Appeals Affirms Summary Judgment for Insurer, Rules “Any Motor Vehicle” Means Exactly That

April 4, 2014

The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s grant of summary judgment, obtained by Fred Valz, in favor of an insurance company in a declaratory judgment action stemming from a 2011 auto accident. The Plaintiff’s sixteen year-old daughter was killed in the accident, which occurred after their daughter and other minors had allegedly been socializing and drinking at the home of the insureds. Plaintiff filed suit against the insureds, and the insureds sought coverage under their homeowner’s policy issued. The insurance company, in turn, filed a declaratory judgment action seeking a judicial declaration that the homeowner’s policy excluded coverage for damages arising from the use of any motor vehicle. The Plaintiff argued that the exclusion applied only when the insured exercised control over the motor vehicle. However, the Court of Appeals and the trial court rejected this argument. Instead, the courts accepted Mr. Valz’ position that “any motor vehicle” was not limited to motor vehicles owned or operated by or under the control of the insured, but applied to motor vehicles owned or operated by any person. Accordingly, the Court of Appeals confirmed the trial court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of the insurer and ruled as a matter of law that the insurer had no further duty to defend or indemnify the insureds in the underlying tort action.

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