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Auto-Owners Insurance Company v. Forstrom

October 07, 2003

AUTO-OWNERS INSURANCE COMPANY, APPELLANT,
v.
IONE FORSTROM, ET AL., DEFENDANTS, MARK ANTHONY HEATH, ET AL., RESPONDENTS, PABLO OJEDA-NAPOLES, ET AL., RESPONDENTS, HEATHER TUCKEE, AS PARENT AND NATURAL GUARDIAN OF TANNER RAY HEATH, RES PONDENT, MYRON WEEGE, JR., AS PARENT AND NATURAL GUARDIAN OF MYRON WEEGE, III, AND BRIANNA WEEGE, RESPONDENT.



Fillmore County District Court File No. C902124

Considered and decided by Harten, Presiding Judge; Anderson, Judge; and Wright, Judge.

SYLLABUS BY THE COURT

Extrinsic evidence may be introduced to rebut the presumption of vehicle ownership that is established by the certificate of title only to avoid vicarious liability or to avoid responsibility under the no-fault act.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: G. Barry Anderson, Judge

Affirmed in part, reversed in part and remanded

OPINION

Appellant Auto-Owners Insurance Company (Owners) appeals from the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of respondents, arguing that (a) the court erred when it concluded that extrinsic evidence could not be considered to determine ownership of a vehicle when interpreting an insurance policy, and (b) genuine issues of material fact precluded summary judgment. We affirm in part, reverse in part, and remand.

FACTS

On May 13, 2000, the vehicle driven by Mark Heath (Heath), borrowed from Alisha Dennis (Dennis), struck the vehicle occupied by Pablo and Maria Ojeda-Napoles (the Ojeda-Napoles). In April 2001, the Ojeda-Napoles commenced a personal injury suit against Heath and Dennis.

Because Heath did not have an insurance policy issued in his own name, one of the insurance coverage matters addressed after the accident was a dispute as to whether an insurance policy Owners issued to Ione Forstrom, Heath's grandmother with whom he lived, provided coverage for Heath's accident. Forstrom's policy provided insurance for her own automobile, and also provided coverage for other automobiles:

1. LIABILITY COVERAGE – BODILY INJURY AND PROPERTY DAMAGE

a. The Liability Coverage provided for your automobile also applies to an automobile not:

(1) owned by or furnished or available for regular use to you or anyone ...


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