PORTLAND, Maine (Legal Newsline) – The Maine Supreme Judicial Court has upheld a ruling that car insurance companies named as defendants in a lawsuit are not responsible for paying recovery fees to the parents of a man who died in a vehicle from gunshot wounds.
The Aug. 29 decision was made in response to a decision from the Cumberland County Superior Court in which Theresa L. Allocca and Timothy Allen Davison were the plaintiffs and the defendants were York Insurance Co. of Maine, Allstate Insurance Co. and Horace Mann Teachers Insurance Co.
The incident leading to the lawsuit involved Timothy Austin Davison, who was the son of the plaintiffs. On Jan. 4, 2014, Davison, who was known as Asti, was forced onto a median on Interstate 81 by an assailant who had been following him.
Asti, who was driving his father's sport utility vehicle, and the assailant had crossed the state line into Pennsylvania. After Asti's vehicle was struck and pushed into the median, the assailant pulled up next to Asti's SUV, shot him multiple times and drove away. Asti died from the gunshot wounds.
Asti was insured under an automobile policy and a motorcycle policy by Allstate. Asti's father's SUV, which he was driving when he was killed, was insured under York Insurance Co.
Asti's mother's vehicle was insured under a Horace Mann policy. All policies' uninsured motor vehicle rules state that they will pay for injuries "caused by accident" arising from the uninsured motorist, the opinion states.
Asti's parents sued the defendants, claiming that they are entitled to "recover in their own right as statutory beneficiaries" under a wrongful death statute, the opinion states. The insurance companies moved for summary judgment, arguing that Asti's death was not caused by accident and did not arise from the use of a vehicle, and therefore, is not covered by uninsured motorist policies.
The Superior Court granted the summary judgment in June 2016, concluding that uninsured motorist coverage "applies only to the 'reasonable and proper use' of an uninsured or hit-and-run vehicle and that the way the assailant used the vehicle he was operating did not constitute a proper use."
The Supreme Court concluded that "the UM provisions included in the policies issued by the defendants do not provide coverage for losses caused by Asti's death."