Cannon v. Maine Bonding & Cas. Co.

Decision Date25 March 1994
Docket NumberNo. 93-115,93-115
CourtNew Hampshire Supreme Court

Wiggin & Nourie, P.A., Manchester (Peter E. Hutchins, orally and on the brief, and John P. Fagan, on the brief), for James and Carol Cannon.

Devine, Millimet & Branch, P.A., Manchester (Eileen Fox, on the brief, and Julie Ann Boyle, orally), for Maine Bonding & Cas. Co.

Ouellette, Hallisey, Dibble and Tanguay, P.A., Dover (Stephen J. Dibble, on the brief and orally), for Universal Underwriters Group.

JOHNSON, Justice.

These declaratory judgment actions, involving issues of automobile insurance coverage, arose after David Castles assaulted James Cannon on Interstate 93. Castles had been driving his employer's car, which was insured by Universal Underwriters Group (Universal Underwriters), while Cannon had been driving his own car, insured by Maine Bonding & Casualty Company (Maine Bonding). The Superior Court (Hollman, J.) ruled that Cannon's injuries did not arise out of any use of Castles' employer's car and, therefore, that Universal Underwriters is not obligated to provide Castles with liability coverage and that Maine Bonding is not obligated to provide James and Carol Cannon with uninsured motorist benefits. The Cannons appeal, and we affirm.

For purposes of this appeal, the parties agree to the following. Castles and Cannon were driving in separate cars on Interstate 93 in Manchester when Castles engaged Cannon in a "cat-and-mouse" game, alternatively accelerating and decelerating, and not letting Cannon pass. Castles used certain hostile hand signals to indicate that he wanted Cannon to pull over to the side of the road. Cannon refused and drove closely behind Castles to determine Castles' license plate number. Castles slammed on his brakes, causing Cannon to do likewise and stall his car. The cars came to a stop on the highway without touching. Castles then ran over to Cannon's car, in which Cannon remained seated, smashed the driver's side window with his fist, and punched Cannon. This attack left Cannon with a severe eye injury. The Cannons sued Castles, and these declaratory judgment actions followed.

The narrow issue on appeal is whether the superior court correctly ruled that Cannon's injuries did not arise out of any use of the car Castles was driving. Universal Underwriters' contractual and statutory obligations to provide liability coverage for Castles depend on Cannon's injuries arising out of the use of this car. See RSA 259:61, I (1993); RSA 264:20 (1993). Under the Maine Bonding insurance policy, uninsured motorist coverage depends on the same condition.

We recently explained in Akerley v. Hartford Insurance Group, 136 N.H. 433, 616 A.2d 511 (1992), that "arising out of" a car's use means "originating from, or growing out of, or flowing from the use." Id. at 439, 616 A.2d at 515 (quotation omitted); see also Union Mut. Fire Ins. Co. v. King, 113 N.H. 39, 41, 300 A.2d 335, 336 (1973); Carter v. Bergeron, 102 N.H. 464, 470-71, 160 A.2d 348, 353 (1960). To warrant coverage, the use need not be the proximate cause of the injuries, but the causal connection between the two must be more than "tenuous." Akerley, 136 N.H. at 439, 616 A.2d at 515. For example, in Akerley, where a police officer was injured while apprehending a suspect who had been firing a gun from his car, we denied coverage in part because the suspect was not "using his vehicle or behaving as a motorist" at the time the officer was injured. Id. at 440, 616 A.2d at 515.

Similarly, at the time of Castles' assault on Cannon, Castles was no longer using his...

To continue reading

Request your trial
9 cases
  • Wendell v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 97-393
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Montana
    • 18 June 1998
    ...with similar facts where it was held that no causal relationship existed, State Farm cited Cannon v. Maine Bonding & Cas. Co. (1994), 138 N.H. 365, 639 A.2d 270, a case employing the same expansive test as in Dorris. In Cannon, a motorist engaged the insured in a game of "cat and mouse" on ......
  • Moore v. Grau, 2017-0035
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of New Hampshire
    • 8 August 2018
    ...1197 (construing "arise from or out of"), we have construed the phrase "arising out of." See, e.g., Cannon v. Maine Bonding & Cas. Co., 138 N.H. 365, 366, 639 A.2d 270 (1994). As the trial court noted, and the defendants reiterate, our cases recognize that "[t]he phrase ‘arising out of’ has......
  • Roque v. Allstate Ins. Co.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Colorado
    • 19 January 2012
    ...original)); Hamidian v. State Farm Fire & Cas. Co., 251 Kan. 254, 833 P.2d 1007, 1013 (1992) (same); Cannon v. Maine Bonding & Cas. Co., 138 N.H. 365, 639 A.2d 270, 271 (1994) (same, expressly distinguishing cases where assailant “brought [the] car to a stop and left it unattended” from tho......
  • Pro Con Constr., Inc. v. Acadia Ins. Co.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of New Hampshire
    • 5 March 2002
    ...proximate cause of the injuries but the causal connection between the two must be more than tenuous. See Cannon v. Maine Bonding & Cas. Co., 138 N.H. 365, 366, 639 A.2d 270 (1994). This means some causal nexus must link Decorative Concepts' ongoing operations and the injuries before coverag......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT