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Indiana Insurance Guaranty Association v. Smith

Court of Appeals of Indiana

September 25, 2017

Indiana Insurance Guaranty Association, Appellant-Defendant,
v.
Carlos A. Smith, Appellee-Plaintiff

         Interlocutory Appeal from the St. Joseph Superior Court The Honorable Jenny Pitts Manier, Judge, Trial Court Cause No. 71D05-1603-CT-170

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT John H. Halstead Ryan D. O'Day Kightlinger & Gray, LLP Merrillville, Indiana.

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE Douglas E. Sakaguchi James P. Barth Pfeifer, Morgan & Stesiak South Bend, Indiana.

          ATTORNEYS FOR AMICUS CURIAE INDIANA TRIAL LAWYERS ASSOCIATION William E. Winingham Jonathon B. Noyes Wilson Kehoe Winingham LLC Indianapolis, Indiana.

          BAKER, JUDGE.

         [¶1] Two motorists were involved in a car accident. During the subsequent legal proceedings, the Indiana Insurance Guaranty Association (IIGA) intervened as the real party in interest, and the trial court substituted the IIGA for the original insurance company defendant. The IIGA filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that the tortfeasor's insurance company's denial of coverage did not render him uninsured such that the other motorist seeking damages could not recover under his own insurance policy's provision on uninsured automobiles. The IIGA brings this interlocutory appeal following the trial court's denial of its motion. Finding no error with the trial court's denial of the motion to dismiss, we affirm.

         Facts

         [¶2] On August 18, 2015, Carlos Smith and Martin Torres were involved in a car accident in South Bend. At the time of the accident, Smith was insured by Affirmative Casualty Insurance Company (Affirmative) and Torres was insured by ACCC Insurance Company (ACCC). On November 10, 2015, ACCC denied coverage to Torres based on his lack of cooperation with the accident investigation.

         [¶3] On March 29, 2016, Smith filed a complaint against Torres and Affirmative, alleging that Torres negligently caused Smith's injuries and that Torres was uninsured at the time of the accident based on ACCC's denial of coverage. He also alleged that, under the uninsured motorist provision of his own insurance policy, Affirmative was liable for the damages he suffered as a result of an accident with an uninsured driver. The Affirmative policy defines an "uninsured automobile" as:

1. an automobile or trailer with respect to the ownership, maintenance or use of which there is, in at least the amount specified by the financial responsibility law of the state in which the insured automobile is principally garaged, no bodily injury liability bond or insurance policy applicable at the time of the accident with respect to any person or organization legally responsible for the use of such automobile . . . .
3. an automobile with respect to which there is a bodily injury liability insurance policy applicable at the time of the accident but the Company writing the same is or becomes insolvent subsequent to the date of an accident.

Appellant's App. Vol. II p. 44.

         [¶4] Five days before Smith filed his complaint, an order of liquidation was entered against Affirmative. The IIGA was subsequently deemed the insolvent insurer under Indiana Code section 27-6-8-7(a)(2).[1] The IIGA intervened in the case as the real party in interest, and the trial court substituted the IIGA for Affirmative as the defendant.

         [¶5] On December 7, 2016, the IIGA filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that ACCC's denial of coverage did not render Torres uninsured under Indiana law or the Affirmative policy. A hearing took place on January 11, 2017, and that same day, ...


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