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Centre County Trial Court Denies Insurance Company Motion To Sever UIM and Third Party Case

A Centre County court recently filed an Opinion and Order in a post-Koken case involving a jointly filed third party and underinsured (UIM) motorist case. In Fennessey v. Sweeney and State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company, No. 2012-2865 (Centre Co. Dec. 11, 2012) the Plaintiff filed a third party and UIM claim after sustaining injuries in a July 29, 2010 motor vehicle accident. State Farm is the insurance company for both the third party and the plaintiff for the UIM claim. Both Defendants filed preliminary Objections to the Complaint and filed Motions to Sever.

The trial court overrules the joinder Preliminary Objection finding that the claims were properly joined under Pennsylvania Rule of Civil Procedure 2229(b) because they arise out of the same transaction or occurrence, the car accident of July 29, 2010. The trial court denies the motion to sever and finds that Pennsylvania Rule of Evidence 411 does not warrant severance. The court writes that “[h]ere, evidence of Defendants’ insurance coverage would be admissible to help determine State Farm’s liability as the provider of underinsured motorist coverage……..The Court also agree with Plaintiffs that it would be inefficient and unfair to Plaintiffs to require two trials that would be nearly identical in many respects.”

The court also overrules a Preliminary Objection with regards to a loss of consortium claim because of limited tort. The court holds that the ability to recover for a “serious injury” is tied to the person actually injured and that the person claiming loss of consortium does not need to have sustained an independent “serious injury”.

For a free copy of the opinion and order please contact Schmidt Kramer Car Accident Lawyer Scott Cooper at scooper@Schmidt or 717-888-8888.

Thanks to PAJ member and auto listserve member Amy Kubisiak.

If you have been injured in a Pennsylvania car accident or a loved one has been injured or killed in a car accident contact Schmidt Kramer Car Accident Lawyers at 717-888-8888 and we will answer any questions you have about the Pennsylvania car accident and the legal rights you may have due to the personal injury and losses involving any State College car accident, especially if you may need a lawyer. Don’t wait, call 8.