Avemco Ins. Co. v. White, No. 77560

CourtSupreme Court of Oklahoma
Writing for the CourtWATT; OPALA; ALMA WILSON
Citation841 P.2d 588
Docket NumberNo. 77560
Decision Date03 November 1992
PartiesAVEMCO INSURANCE COMPANY, a Maryland corporation, Plaintiff, v. Robin Gayle WHITE, individually and as personal representative of the Estate of Jeffery Alan White, deceased; Doniece Lackey, individually and as Executrix of the Estate of William Roy Lackey, deceased, and as personal representative of the heirs of William Roy Lackey; and Harold D. "Red" Stevenson, Defendants.

Page 588

841 P.2d 588
1992 OK 147
AVEMCO INSURANCE COMPANY, a Maryland corporation, Plaintiff,
v.
Robin Gayle WHITE, individually and as personal
representative of the Estate of Jeffery Alan White,
deceased; Doniece Lackey, individually and as Executrix of
the Estate of William Roy Lackey, deceased, and as personal
representative of the heirs of William Roy Lackey; and
Harold D. "Red" Stevenson, Defendants.
No. 77560.
Supreme Court of Oklahoma.
Nov. 3, 1992.

Page 589

Robert S. Lafferrandre, Gary M. Chubbuck, Pierce, Couch, Hendrickson, Johnston & Baysinger, Oklahoma City, for plaintiff.

Michael P. Atkinson, Galen L. Brittingham, Thomas, Glass, Atkinson, Haskins, Nellis & Boudreaux, Tulsa, for defendants.

WATT, Justice.

The United States District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma certified a question of state law to this court under the Oklahoma Uniform Certification of Questions of State Law Act, 20 O.S.1991 §§ 1601, et seq. The federal court asks:

Whether an Airworthiness Certificate exclusion in an aircraft liability policy is contrary to Oklahoma public policy, and unenforceable when no causal link has been shown between the crash of the aircraft and the failure to have a "Standard" Category Airworthiness Certificate?

We answer no. Such an exclusion is not contrary to Oklahoma public policy, and the insurer does not need to prove a causal link between the crash and the absence of a "Standard" Airworthiness Certificate.

FACTS

The relevant facts are simple, and undisputed. Plaintiff, Avemco, issued an aircraft policy to decedent, White, in Missouri, which covered an airplane White owned. White was a citizen and resident of Missouri and kept his airplane there. In 1989, White died in the crash of a Beech T-34 Mentor aircraft, owned by defendant Stevenson. Stevenson lacked a "Standard" Category Airworthiness Certificate for it. At the time of the crash, the airplane had an experimental aircraft certificate. The crash occurred in Muskogee County, Oklahoma.

White's policy with Avemco provided excess coverage to White during his operation of certain aircraft he did not own. The policy expressly excluded from coverage, however, any such aircraft that lacked a " 'Standard' Category Airworthiness Certificate."

Decedent, Lackey, also died in the crash. Lackey's estate sued White's estate in the District Court of Muskogee County. Lackey's estate claimed that the negligence of either White or the aircraft owner, Stevenson, or both, caused the crash. White's estate demanded that Avemco defend the Muskogee County action and indemnify it under the aircraft policy. Avemco refused, and brought the federal court action from which this certified question comes. Avemco filed a motion for summary judgment in the federal court action on the ground that the express terms of White's policy excluded the loss from coverage.

Page 590

The federal court then certified to this court the question we consider today.
THE SCOPE OF OUR DECISION

Avemco makes two claims in its brief. It contends that Missouri law governs the interpretation of the White policy. Missouri law does not require an insurer to show a causal connection between excluded conduct and the loss. Avemco also argues that enforcing the exclusion does not violate Oklahoma public policy, although the insurer fails to prove a causal link between the crash and the absence of a "Standard" Airworthiness Certificate.

Title 20 O.S.1991 § 1602 of the Oklahoma Uniform Certification of Questions of Law Act authorizes this court "... to answer questions of law certified to it ..." [Emphasis added.] In this procedural setting, therefore, we decline to deal with whether Missouri law should be applied, as this issue is beyond the scope of the federal court's certified question. The certified question before us today asks only whether the exclusion in White's policy violates Oklahoma public policy. We limit our discussion to this issue.

DISCUSSION

Most jurisdictions have rejected the notion that public policy requires a causal connection between the commission of an act that gives rise to an exclusion from insurance coverage and the happening of a casualty. A few, however, have adopted the contrary rule.

Avemco Insurance Co. v. Chung, 388 F.Supp. 142 (D.C.Haw.1975), is an example of the...

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8 practice notes
  • Odom v. Penske Truck Leasing Co., Case Number: 116554
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Oklahoma
    • March 13, 2018
    ...define the scope of this Court's decision when answering certified questions of law. See Avemco Ins. Co. v. White, 1992 OK 147, ¶¶ 5-6, 841 P.2d 588 ; Fairview State Bank v. Edwards , 1987 OK 53, n.1, 739 P.2d 994 ; Ladd Petroleum Corp. v. Okla. Tax. Comm'n , 1980 OK 159, n.4, 619 P.2d 602.......
  • Odom v. Penske Truck Leasing Co., Case Number: 116554
    • United States
    • Oklahoma Supreme Court
    • March 8, 2018
    ...define the scope of this Court's decision when answering certified questions of law. See Avemco Ins. Co. v. White¸ 1992 OK 147, ¶¶5-6, 841 P.2d 588; Fairview State Bank v. Edwards, 1987 OK 53, n.1, 739 P.2d 994; Ladd Petroleum Corp. v. Okla. Tax. Comm'n, 1980 OK 159, n.4, 619 P.2d 602. Furt......
  • Old Republic Ins. Co. v. Jensen, No. CV-N-02-0252-LRH(VPC).
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Nevada
    • August 5, 2003
    ...exclusions relating to annual inspections and airworthiness certificates to be clear and unambiguous. See, e.g., Avemco Ins. Co. v. White, 841 P.2d 588 (Okla. 1992) ("This policy does not apply ... [t]o any Insured who operate ... the aircraft, while in flight, unless its airworthiness......
  • Ranger Ins. Co. v. Kovach, No. 3:96CV02421 (EBB).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Connecticut)
    • June 22, 1999
    ...S.E.2d 426 Page 181 (1984); American Continental Ins. Co. v. Gerkens, 69 Ohio App.3d 697, 591 N.E.2d 774 (1990); Avemco Ins. Co. v. White, 841 P.2d 588 (Okla.1992); Ochs v. Avemco Ins. Co., 54 Or.App. 768, 636 P.2d 421 (1981), petition for review denied, 292 Or. 450, 644 P.2d 1128 (1982); D......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
8 cases
  • Odom v. Penske Truck Leasing Co., Case Number: 116554
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Oklahoma
    • March 13, 2018
    ...define the scope of this Court's decision when answering certified questions of law. See Avemco Ins. Co. v. White, 1992 OK 147, ¶¶ 5-6, 841 P.2d 588 ; Fairview State Bank v. Edwards , 1987 OK 53, n.1, 739 P.2d 994 ; Ladd Petroleum Corp. v. Okla. Tax. Comm'n , 1980 OK 159, n.4, 619 P.2d 602.......
  • Odom v. Penske Truck Leasing Co., Case Number: 116554
    • United States
    • Oklahoma Supreme Court
    • March 8, 2018
    ...define the scope of this Court's decision when answering certified questions of law. See Avemco Ins. Co. v. White¸ 1992 OK 147, ¶¶5-6, 841 P.2d 588; Fairview State Bank v. Edwards, 1987 OK 53, n.1, 739 P.2d 994; Ladd Petroleum Corp. v. Okla. Tax. Comm'n, 1980 OK 159, n.4, 619 P.2d 602. Furt......
  • Old Republic Ins. Co. v. Jensen, No. CV-N-02-0252-LRH(VPC).
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Nevada
    • August 5, 2003
    ...exclusions relating to annual inspections and airworthiness certificates to be clear and unambiguous. See, e.g., Avemco Ins. Co. v. White, 841 P.2d 588 (Okla. 1992) ("This policy does not apply ... [t]o any Insured who operate ... the aircraft, while in flight, unless its airworthiness......
  • Ranger Ins. Co. v. Kovach, No. 3:96CV02421 (EBB).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 2nd Circuit. United States District Court (Connecticut)
    • June 22, 1999
    ...S.E.2d 426 Page 181 (1984); American Continental Ins. Co. v. Gerkens, 69 Ohio App.3d 697, 591 N.E.2d 774 (1990); Avemco Ins. Co. v. White, 841 P.2d 588 (Okla.1992); Ochs v. Avemco Ins. Co., 54 Or.App. 768, 636 P.2d 421 (1981), petition for review denied, 292 Or. 450, 644 P.2d 1128 (1982); D......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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