Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Jackson v. Quincy Mutual Fire Insurance Co.

Supreme Court of Rhode Island

May 5, 2017

Jeanne Jackson, Executrix of the Estate of Anthony J. Esposito, Jr. et al.
v.
Quincy Mutual Fire Insurance Company et al.

         Providence County Superior Court PC 12-1793 Associate Justice Richard A. Licht

          For Plaintiff: Edward John Mulligan, Esq.

          For Defendant: Richard A. van Tienhoven, Esq.

          Present: Suttell, C.J., Goldberg, Flaherty, Robinson, and Indeglia, JJ.

          OPINION

          Maureen McKenna Goldberg, Associate Justice

         This case came before the Supreme Court on March 8, 2017, on appeal by the plaintiff, Jeanne Jackson (plaintiff) as Executrix of the Estate of Anthony J. Esposito, Jr. (decedent), from a grant of summary judgment in favor of the defendant, Quincy Mutual Fire Insurance Company (defendant or Quincy Mutual). For the reasons set forth herein, we vacate the judgment of the Superior Court.

         Facts and Travel

         The facts of this case, which we glean from the filings of the parties, are tragic. On September 9, 2011, decedent was riding his motorcycle on Route 6 in Providence when what has been described as a green trash barrel fell from a passing truck and entered the decedent's lane of travel. The barrel collided with the motorcycle and became wedged in its front tire. The decedent lost control of the motorcycle and was ejected into the adjacent lane of travel. The decedent struck the ground, rolled into the high-speed lane, and was hit by a car traveling in that lane. He died from his injuries.

         The motorcycle was insured with the Foremost Insurance Company, which provided limited liability insurance but did not provide uninsured motorist (UM) coverage. Although the decedent did not have UM coverage from his motorcycle policy, he also owned an automobile that was insured with Quincy Mutual. The policy with Quincy Mutual (the Quincy Mutual policy) did have UM coverage. However, there was an exclusion to the UM coverage, which is the subject of this dispute. The exclusion section (A.1.) of the Quincy Mutual policy reads as follows:

"We do not provide Uninsured Motorists Coverage for 'bodily injury' sustained: By an 'insured' while 'occupying', or when struck by, any motor vehicle owned by that 'insured' which is not insured for this coverage under this policy."

         The definitions section (G.) of the Quincy Mutual policy reads as follows: "'Occupying' means in, upon, getting in, on, out or off."

         The plaintiff, as executrix of decedent's estate, brought a declaratory judgment action in Superior Court, declaring that the estate was entitled to UM coverage under the Quincy Mutual policy. Quincy Mutual moved for summary judgment, stating that the exclusion clause bars plaintiff from recovery because decedent was "occupying" his owned-but-not-insured motorcycle at the time of the fatal injury.

         On September 29, 2015, a hearing was held on the motion, during which plaintiff argued that there were disputed issues of material fact as to which of the two collisions was the cause of decedent's death-the first collision with the trash barrel, which caused decedent to lose control of the motorcycle, or the second impact from the passing car. The plaintiff claimed that the timing between the two collisions was a critical factor in determining whether decedent was "occupying" the motorcycle at the time of his death as that term is defined in the Quincy Mutual policy. The motion justice acknowledged that "the coroner couldn't even tell which accident killed [decedent], whether it was the barrel being thrown or getting hit from the car." Notwithstanding this question of fact, the motion justice, relying on this Court's holding in General Accident Insurance Co. of America v. Olivier, 574 A.2d 1240 (R.I. 1990), [1] concluded that, under Olivier, decedent was occupying his motorcycle at the time of his death. Accordingly, the motion justice granted summary judgment in favor of Quincy Mutual. An order granting partial summary judgment was entered on October 16, 2015, from which plaintiff timely appealed.

         Standard of Review

         "Summary judgment is 'a drastic remedy, ' and a motion for summary judgment should be dealt with cautiously." Estate of Giuliano v. Giuliano, 949 A.2d 386, 390 (R.I. 2008) (quoting Ardent v. Horan, 117 R.I. 254, 256-57, 366 A.2d 162, 164 (1976)). "It is important to bear in mind that the 'purpose of the summary judgment procedure is issue finding, not issue determination.'" Id. at 391 (quoting Industrial National Bank v. Peloso, 121 R.I. 305, 307, 397 A.2d 1312, 1313 (1979)); see also Steinberg v. State, 427 A.2d 338, 340 (R.I. ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.