U.S. v. Criterion Ins. Co., 28472

Docket NºNo. 28472
Citation596 P.2d 1203, 198 Colo. 132
Case DateJuly 02, 1979
CourtSupreme Court of Colorado

Joseph F. Dolan, U. S. Atty., James W. Winchester, Asst. U. S. Atty., Denver, for plaintiff-appellant.

Deisch & Marion, P.C., Sheldon H. Smith, Denver, for defendant-appellee.

GROVES, Justice.

This is the answer to a question certified to us under C.A.R. 21.1 by the United States Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit, in its number 77-1906. The question is: Assuming Arguendo that the Colorado Automobile Accident Reparations Act, sections 10-4-701 Et seq., C.R.S. 1973 has application to the automobile accident involved, does that Act grant to the United States status as a third party beneficiary to the end that it may maintain the present action against Criterion Insurance Company? We answer in the affirmative.

We requested, and the referring court agreed, that our answer would be predicated upon the following assumptions and conditions: that it be assumed without deciding that the law of the forum governs; that this court does not pass on any conflicts of law questions; that this court will not interpret Maryland law; and that there are no federal statutory provisions against recovery by the United States of America.

In presenting the matter to this court, the certifying court made the following statement:

"Joseph G. Blain, an Air National Guardsman on active duty in the Armed Forces of the United States, was injured in a motor vehicle accident in Denver, Colorado. At the time Blain was driving an automobile which he owned and which was registered in Maryland. Blain was insured by the Criterion Insurance Company of Maryland, and the policy contained so-called 'no-fault' provisions. The date of the accident was subsequent to the effective date of the Colorado Automobile Accident Reparations Act (the 'no-fault' automobile insurance law). C.R.S. 1973, § 10-4-701, Et seq.

"Pursuant to 10 U.S.C. § 1701, (1071) Et seq., the United States is required to provide free medical care to members of the Armed Forces, and as a result of the accident Blain received medical treatment from the United States of a value of $1,479.00. The United States later made claim upon Criterion Insurance Company for payment of its medical expense in treating Blain, which claim was refused. The United States then filed suit against Criterion in the United States District Court for the District of Colorado, the claim for relief being based on the Federal Medical Care Recovery Act, 42 U.S.C. § 2651, Et seq. and the Colorado 'no-fault' statute referred to above. By answer, Criterion denied liability to the United States. Criterion later filed a motion for summary judgment, and attached to the motion an affidavit of its assistant vice-president and a copy of its policy with Blain. The district court, after hearing, granted the motion and entered summary judgment for Criterion. The United States now appeals.

"On appeal, the United States does Not urge the Federal Medical Care Recovery Act as authority requiring and permitting recovery by it in the present proceeding. Hence, this appeal narrows down to a determination as to whether the Colorado 'no-fault' statute creates a cause of action on behalf of the United States against Criterion. It is the position of the United States that the Colorado 'no-fault' statute governs the present controversy, and that the statute itself makes the United States a third party beneficiary and thus entitles it to maintain the present proceeding against Criterion. It is Criterion's position that, under the facts and circumstances which are not in dispute, the Colorado 'no-fault' statute has no application and that the present controversy is governed by Maryland law. It is Criterion's alternative position that if the Colorado 'no-fault' statute applies, the statute does not make United States a third party beneficiary entitled to maintain the present proceeding."

We are concerned only with Criterion's alternative position mentioned in the last sentence above.

Colorado's no-fault statute, the Colorado Auto Accident Reparations Act, is set forth in sections 10-4-701 through 723, C.R.S. 1973, which constitute Part 7 of an article relating to "Property and Casualty Insurance." Section 705 provides that "(e)very owner of a motor vehicle who operates the motor vehicle on the public highways of this state . . . shall have in full force and effect a complying policy under the terms of this part 7 covering the said motor vehicle" or shall be subject to certain sanctions. Section 706(1) provides that "the minimum coverages required for compliance" include:

"(b) Compensation without regard to fault, up to a limit of twenty-five thousand dollars per person for any one accident, for payment of all reasonable and necessary expenses for medical, chiropractic, optometric, podiatric, hospital, nursing, X-ray, dental, surgical, ambulance, and prosthetic services. . . ."

Section 711(4)(a) provides:

"Notwithstanding any of its other terms and conditions, every contract of liability insurance for injury, wherever issued, covering ownership, maintenance, or use of a motor vehicle, shall provide coverages at least as extensive as the minimum coverages required by operation of (section 706), and qualifies as security covering the vehicle while it is in this state."

For the purpose of this answer to the inquiry, it is assumed that Criterion is responsible for the Statutorily required coverage above set forth. To repeat, the only question before us is whether the United States as a third party beneficiary can maintain an action to obtain reimbursement under this coverage.

It is clear that our...

To continue reading

Request your trial
15 cases
  • Parrish Chiropractic Centers, P.C. v. Progressive Cas. Ins. Co., 93SC302
    • United States
    • Colorado Supreme Court of Colorado
    • May 16, 1994
    ...it is nevertheless an intended beneficiary of the PIP policy because of this court's decision in United States v. Criterion Ins. Co., 198 Colo. 132, 596 P.2d 1203 In Criterion, we decided a question certified by the federal appellate court as to whether the United States could recover from ......
  • Government Employees Ins. Co. v. Andujar, 89-1594-C.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 10th Circuit. United States District Courts. 10th Circuit. District of Kansas
    • August 13, 1991
    ...290, 740 P.2d 550 (1987) (United States may recover from serviceman's no-fault insurance carrier); United States v. Criterion Ins. Co., 198 Colo. 132, 596 P.2d 1203 (1979). The court also notes that Congress has amended the veteran's benefit statute to allow the Secretary of Veterans Affair......
  • U.S. v. Allstate Ins. Co., 11441
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Hawai'i
    • July 30, 1987
    ...605 F.2d 669, 671 (2d Cir.1979); United States v. Allstate Insurance Co., 606 F.Supp. at 590; United States v. Criterion Insurance Co., 198 Colo. 132, 135, 596 P.2d 1203, 1206 12 We are mindful of case law to the contrary. See, e.g., United States v. Allstate Insurance Co., 754 F.2d 662 (6t......
  • Cingoranelli v. St. Paul Fire and Marine Ins. Co., 81SC306
    • United States
    • Colorado Supreme Court of Colorado
    • February 14, 1983
    ...to allow injured party full PIP as well as full tort recovery absent double compensation); United States v. Criterion Insurance Company, 198 Colo. 132, 596 P.2d 1203 (1979) (intent of Act is to require PIP insurer to pay all the medical expenses incurred by the insured "irrespective of who ......
  • 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