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William Bunt v. Grange Insurance Company

December 26, 2012

WILLIAM BUNT APPELLANT
v.
GRANGE INSURANCE COMPANY APPELLEE



APPEAL FROM JUDGMENT ENTERED IN THE COURT OF COMMON PLEAS COUNTY OF LORAIN, OHIO CASE No. 07CV151760

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Carr, Judge.

Cite as Bunt v. Grange Ins. Co.,

ss:

DECISION AND JOURNAL ENTRY

{¶1} Appellants, William and Carol Bunt, appeal an order of the Lorain County Court of Common Pleas that granted summary judgment to Grange Insurance Company. This Court affirms.

I.

{¶2} William Bunt was injured when unidentified men attempted to carjack his pickup truck at a gas station. He filed an action for declaratory judgment against Grange Insurance, which is the issuer of his automobile insurance policy, seeking declarations that he is entitled to medical payments and to uninsured motorist coverage under the terms of his insurance policy. Mr. Bunt's wife filed a claim for loss of consortium. The trial court granted summary judgment to Grange and denied Bunt's motion for summary judgment, concluding that his injuries were not caused by an accident and that they did not arise from use of the covered vehicle. The Bunts appealed.

II.

ASSIGNMENT OF ERROR

The trial court erred when it granted Grange Insurance Company's motion for summary judgment and denied William and Carol Bunts' cross motion for summary judgment.

{¶3} The Bunts' assignment of error is that because Mr. Bunt's injuries were sustained while he was at least partially in his vehicle and while he had the keys in his hand, the vehicle was "intertwined in his injury," and the trial court erred by granting summary judgment to Grange. The parties agree that the analysis of whether Mr. Bunt is entitled to uninsured motorists coverage applies with equal weight to, and is dispositive of, his claim for medical payments coverage.

{¶4} This Court reviews an order that grants summary judgment de novo. Grafton v. Ohio Edison Co., 77 Ohio St.3d 102, 105 (1996). Summary judgment is proper if there are no genuine issues of material fact and the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. See Civ.R. 56(C). In applying this standard, evidence is construed in favor of the nonmoving party, and summary judgment is appropriate if reasonable minds could only conclude that judgment should be entered in favor of the movant. Horton v. Harwick Chem. Corp., 73 Ohio St.3d 679, 686-87 (1995).

{¶5} Mr. Bunt's insurance policy provides that Grange "will pay damages which an insured is legally entitled to recover from the owner or operator of an uninsured motor vehicle because of * * * Bodily Injury suffered by the injured and caused by an accident[.]" The policy also explains that "[t]he owner's or operator's liability for these damages must arise out of the ownership, maintenance, or use of the uninsured motor vehicle." Neither party has argued that Mr. Bunt's truck is not an "uninsured motor vehicle" as defined by the policy. For purposes of this opinion, therefore, we assume without deciding that Mr. Bunt's truck is an "uninsured motor vehicle." See, e.g., Bakos v. Insura Property and Cas. Co., 125 Ohio App.3d 548, 552 (8th Dist.1997).

{¶6} When an insured's injuries arise from the intentional conduct of a tortfeasor, a claim for uninsured motorist coverage focuses not on the nature of the tortfeasor's conduct, but on whether the insured is legally entitled to recover. Kish v. Cent. Nat. Ins. Group of Omaha, 67 Ohio St.2d 41, 45-46 (1981). "Absent any enforceable contractual provisions to the contrary, the determination of whether an occurrence is an 'accident' for purposes of uninsured motorist, family compensation, and accident insurance must be from the standpoint of the insured." Id. at paragraph two of the syllabus. The "determinative factor" is whether there is a causal nexus between the injury to the insured and the uninsured vehicle. Estate of Nord v. Motorists Mut. Ins. Co., 105 Ohio St.3d 366, 2005-Ohio-2165, ¶ 13. In other words, the injury itself must arise out of ...


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