Testone v. Allstate Ins. Co.

Decision Date07 June 1973
Citation328 A.2d 686,165 Conn. 126
CourtConnecticut Supreme Court
PartiesChristopher TESTONE v. ALLSTATE INSURANCE COMPANY et al.

Joseph M. Brandon, New Haven, with whom, on the brief, was Francis B. Feeley, Waterbury, for appellant-appellee (defendant, American Mut. Liability Ins. Co.).

Foster M. Young, Derby, for appellee-appellant (plaintiff).

Daniel D. McDonald, Bridgeport, with whom, on the brief, was Albert L. Coles, Bridgeport, for appellee (named defendant).

William F. Gallagher, New Haven, for appellee (defendant, Gen. Accident Fire and Life Assurance Corp.).

Before HOUSE, C.J., and SHAPIRO, LOISELLE, MacDONALD and BOGDANSKI, JJ.

LOISELLE, Associate Justice.

The plaintiff sought an order compelling three named insurance carriers to proceed with arbitration under the uninsured motorist provisions of the respective company's insurance policy.

The finding as corrected 1 discloses the following facts: Edward Provitz was the owner and operator of a motor vehicle which came to rest on the top of an esplanade railing between the east and westbound lanes of Derby Avenue in the town of Derby. The front of the Provitz car was facing south and the rear wheels and trunk were off the ground and north of the esplanade railing. The plaintiff went to the scene of the accident in a wrecker owned by his employer, Joe's Service Station, Inc. He and a coworker hooked chains to the rear of the Provitz vehicle and the car was lifted by the wrecker. Thereafter a jack was taken from the wrecker and placed under the front of the Provitz vehicle, and the vehicle was raised. The chains were disconnected from the tow bar and then the wrecker was disconnected from the Provitz vehicle but the jack was still under the Provitz vehicle. The plaintiff went from the passenger's side of the Provitz vehicle to the driver's side with the intention of entering it to apply the brakes while the wrecker was moved. At this point the Provitz vehicle was struck by an uninsured vehicle. The plaintiff was immediately adjacent to the Provitz vehicle at the time of the collision and suffered injuries to his left foot and to his nose due to the impact of the uninsured vehicle against the Provitz vehicle.

The personal motor vehicle of the plaintiff was insured by the defendant the General Accident Fire and Life Assurance Corporation, hereinafter called General, under a policy which gave protection against damages caused by an uninsured vehicle to "(a) the named insured and any relative" and "(b) any other person while occupying an insured automobile."

Joe's Service Station, Inc., was insured by the defendant the American Mutual Liability Insurance Company, hereinafter called American, under a policy which gave protection against damages caused by an uninsured vehicle to "(a) the named insured and any designated insured and, while residents of the same household, the spouse and relatives of either; (b) any other person while occupying an insured highway vehicle."

Edward Provitz was insured by the named defendant the Allstate Insurance Company, hereinafter called Allstate, under a policy which gave protection against damages caused by an uninsured vehicle to "(a)(1) the named insured as stated in the policy ... and any person designated as named insured in the schedule and, while residents of the same household, the spouse of any such named insured and relatives of either; (2) any other person while occupying an insured automobile."

The court concluded that "[t]he plaintiff was a personnel [sic] of ... [Joe's Service Station]," the named insured of American, and that while in the process of using the wrecker within the scope of his duties he was injured by the uninsured motorist and that at the time he was injured he was a named insured or designated insured under the policy issued to Joe's Service Station, Inc., by American. American has appealed and the plaintiff has filed a cross appeal.

The court expressly made the contents of the three insurance policies a part of the finding. An examination of the American policy discloses that the only named insured is Joe's Service Station, Inc., and there are no other designated insureds. In Section V of the policy entitled "Additional Definitions" relating to protection against uninsured motorists, it is stated that " 'designated insured' means an individual named in the schedule under Designated Insured." The mere fact that the plaintiff was acting within the scope of his employment at the time he was injured, while affording him remedies and rights under the Workmen's Compensation Act, does not transform him into a named insured or a designated insured as defined under the uninsured motorist coverage of his employer's insurance policy. The court was in error in concluding that the plaintiff was either the named insured or designated insured in his employer's insurance policy.

The further conclusion that the plaintiff was injured while "in the process of using" the wrecker is not supported by the facts found. From disputed facts, the court found that the plaintiff was injured while immediately adjacent to the Provitz vehicle when it was struck. The trial court has misconstrued the word "use" contained in the public liability provisions of the American policy, making the plaintiff or anyone using the wrecker with permission an omnibus insured under the liability policy. The term "use" or "using" does not appear in the uninsured motorist section of the American policy. Unless the plaintiff was injured while occupying the insured's wrecker, as the word "occupying" is defined in the policy, the plaintiff was not entitled to recover damages under his employer's policy. In that portion of the American policy relating to protection against uninsured motorists the word "occupying" is defined as "in or upon or entering into or alighting from" the vehicle. To determine whether, based on the facts presented to the court, the plaintiff could be deemed to be occupying the wrecker owned by his employer and to obtain an understanding of the rationale of the court's conclusions an examination of the evidence printed in the appendices to the briefs is warranted. Andreozzi v. Rubano, 145 Conn. 280, 281-282, 141 A.2d 639; Kriedel v. Krampitz, 137 Conn. 532, 535, 79 A.2d 181. It appears that the basis of the court's conclusion that the plaintiff was within the coverage of his employer's uninsured motorist insurance policy was that the tow bar used by the wrecker to tow vehicles was still attached to the Provitz vehicle and that a jack from the wrecker was underneath the Provitz vehicle and that therefore the wrecker was affixed to the Provitz vehicle and as both vehicles were connected when the plaintiff was injured, he was near or upon the wrecker. The finding that the wrecker's tow bar was "still" attached to the Provitz vehicle is not supported by the appendices; in fact, the plaintiff testified that he had disconnected it. Therefore, the only remaining basis to support the court's conclusion is the use of a jack from the wrecker to support the Provitz vehicle.

The fact that the plaintiff was near his employer's wrecker when injured is of no significance. In Ross v. Protective Indemnity Co., 135 Conn. 150, 153, 62 A.2d 340, 341, where the same phraseology in a medical payments provision of an insurance policy appeared as is present in the case before us, it was pointed out that the meaning of the expression "in or upon, entering or alighting from the automobile" was the common meaning of the expression used in the contract and the court could not so distort the words as to accord a meaning other than that evidently intended by the parties. See ...

To continue reading

Request your trial
36 cases
  • Texas Farm Bureau Mut. Ins. Co. v. Sturrock
    • United States
    • Texas Supreme Court
    • August 27, 2004
    ...parked vehicle, as this constituted new activity that was disassociated from the "use" of the vehicle); Testone v. Allstate Ins. Co., 165 Conn. 126, 328 A.2d 686, 690 (1973) (finding that tow truck worker was not entitled to UM coverage since he was two or three feet from vehicle when injur......
  • Utica Mut. Ins. Co. v. Contrisciane
    • United States
    • Pennsylvania Supreme Court
    • March 16, 1984
    ..."occupying" a vehicle unless he, or part of him is inside or in physical contact with the vehicle. See Testone v. Allstate Insurance Co., 165 Conn. 126, 328 A.2d 686 (1973); Jarvis v. Pennsylvania Threshermen and Farmers' Mutual Casualty Insurance Co., 244 N.C. 691, 94 S.E.2d 843 (1956); Gr......
  • Gomes v. Massachusetts Bay Ins. Co.
    • United States
    • Connecticut Court of Appeals
    • February 15, 2005
    ...of "occupying" and other related language used in uninsured and underinsured motorist policy provisions. In Testone v. Allstate Ins. Co., 165 Conn. 126, 127-29, 328 A.2d 686 (1973), the plaintiff, a tow truck operator injured when a disabled car he was attaching was struck by an uninsured v......
  • Maryland Automobile Ins. Fund v. Baxter, 0530, September Term, 2008.
    • United States
    • Court of Special Appeals of Maryland
    • June 9, 2009
    ...be "occupying" a vehicle unless he, or part of him is inside or in physical contact with the vehicle. See Testone v. Allstate Insurance Co., 165 Conn. 126, 328 A.2d 686 (1973); Jarvis v. Pennsylvania Threshermen and Farmers' Mutual Casualty Insurance Co., 244 N.C. 691, 94 S.E.2d 843 (1956);......
  • 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