489 F.Supp. 9 (E.D.Pa. 1979), Civ. A. 78-3331, Prudential Property and Cas. Ins. Co. v. Pont

Docket Nº:Civ. A. 78-3331
Citation:489 F.Supp. 9
Party Name:Prudential Property and Cas. Ins. Co. v. Pont
Case Date:June 22, 1979
Court:United States District Courts, 3th Circuit, Eastern District of Pennsylvania
 
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489 F.Supp. 9 (E.D.Pa. 1979)

PRUDENTIAL PROPERTY AND CASUALTY INSURANCE COMPANY

v.

Gabriel PONT.

Civ. A. No. 78-3331.

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania.

June 22, 1979

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Daniel T. McWilliams, McWilliams & Sweeney, Philadelphia, Pa., for plaintiff.

Marvin H. Donsky, Master, Donsky & Soffian, Philadelphia, Pa., for defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

VanARTSDALEN, District Judge.

Cross-motions for summary judgment have been filed. The action seeks a declaratory judgment as to the rights of the parties under an "uninsured motorist" clause of an insurance policy issued by the plaintiff. Gabriel Pont was the occupant of a car that had been insured by plaintiff. He was injured when the car had a collision with another car operated by Ruth A. Joell. Ms. Joell's car carried liability insurance through GEICO for the Pennsylvania statutorily mandated minimum sum of $15,000.00. Defendant, Gabriel Pont settled with Ruth A. Joell and GEICO by collecting the full $15,000 from GEICO. Defendant then claimed against the plaintiff, Prudential Property and Casualty Insurance Company (Prudential), for the maximum coverage of $15,000 that Prudential's policy provided to the car in which he was an occupant under the "uninsured motorist" clause. Upon Prudential's denial of coverage, defendant demanded arbitration, claiming such right under the policy. This action ensued to determine the rights between Prudential and the occupant of the car, Gabriel Pont. The collision occurred in Pennsylvania, and Pennsylvania law controls.

Preliminarily, a jurisdictional issue was raised by defendant, a Pennsylvania citizen, claiming lack of diversity by asserting that Prudential's principal place of business is in Pennsylvania. Plaintiff has filed an uncontested affidavit together with a copy of its certificate of incorporation, showing that its State of Incorporation and principal place of business is New Jersey. There is diversity jurisdiction.

The issues raised were addressed in the memorandum and order of February 14, 1979 denying defendant's motion to dismiss. Plaintiff contends that Ruth A. Joell, having the required $15,000 minimum liability coverage was not an uninsured motorist under Prudential's policy. Defendant, in substance, contends that (a) the uninsured motorists clause should be construed to mean "underinsured motorist" and (b) in any event, he is entitled to have the issue finally decided, whether rightly or wrongly, by arbitration.

Neither party has suggested that there is any factual issue in dispute. I conclude

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that plaintiff is entitled to summary judgment.

The car that was operated by Ruth A. Joell carried liability insurance in the limit of $15,000 for bodily injury to any one person. Under the Pennsylvania No-fault Motor Vehicle Act, vehicles are required to be insured to pay up to a limit of $15,000 for personal injuries to any one person in any accident in which the operator is legally liable to the injured person. 40 P.S. s 1009.104. This amount of insurance was recovered by Gabriel Pont. Pennsylvania law also requires that all automobile liability insurance policies contain an "uninsured motorist" provision for "the protection of persons...

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