GMR Wins Summary Judgment in a Passaic County Coverage Dispute Case

GMR Attorney Tyson Mott won Summary Judgment in Passaic County, New Jersey, Coverage Dispute Case. The plaintiff in the matter was struck by a hit and run vehicle and seeking uninsured motorist benefits as a resident relative under his uncle’s insurance policy. The uncle owned a residential property that he had converted to two rental apartments. The uncle had four vehicles registered at the rental property, and the insurance policy listed the rental property as the policy address. Plaintiff rented one of the apartments with his immediate family. However, the uncle did not live at the property and principally garaged the vehicle in New York City, where he worked and rented his own apartment.

Tyson moved summary judgment arguing that the plaintiff did not meet the definition of an insured under the uncle’s policy and that plaintiff was not entitled to uninsured motorist benefits. Plaintiff claimed that the uncle’s residence was irrelevant as the plaintiff was a resident of the address listed on the policy and a relative of the named insured uncle. Plaintiff further argued that the uncle’s insurance carrier waived the ability to dispute coverage because it paid the plaintiff’s first-party medical benefits. Tyson argued for strict interpretation of the policy’s unambiguous terms, which required the plaintiff to reside primarily with the named insured rather than reside primarily at the policy address. Further, Tyson argued that because it was clear the uncle did not live at the property, the plaintiff could not reside primarily with the uncle. Finally, Tyson argued that his client could not have waived any coverage defense by paying medical benefits because the insurer did not discover that the uncle’s actual residence was in New York until well after it paid the medical benefits.

Ultimately, the Court agreed that the policy terms were clear, that the carrier had not waived the coverage defense, and entered summary judgment dismissing Tyson’s client with prejudice.