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The question of whether to permit or require joinder of a real party in interest rests in the sound discretion of the superior court.
While sitting on his motorcycle at a stop light, appellant was thrown backwards when underinsured motorist’s car failed to stop in time and struck the motorcycle. During settlement negotiations in the tort suit that followed, appellant sought payment under the motorist’s underinsured motorist (UIM) insurance policy. Appellant argued that he was an insured occupant of the motorist’s car because he landed on the car after the impact and that the motorist’s liability insurance would not cover the full extent of his damages, rendering the motorist underinsured. The motorist’s insurer sued for a declaratory judgment that no UIM coverage was available. Appellant raised a number of affirmative defenses, including that the insurer’s declaratory judgment action was not ripe and that the court therefore lacked subject matter jurisdiction. Appellant also filed a counterclaim for a declaratory judgment that UIM coverage was available to him, and asserted third-party claims against the motorist, seeking to join him as a necessary party and a real party in interest. The superior court concluded that it had subject matter jurisdiction, granted summary judgment and a declaratory judgment in the insurer’s favor, and dismissed the third-party claims against the motorist. Appellant challenged the decision.
The decision was affirmed. The Supreme Court concluded that the superior court had subject matter jurisdiction to decide the insurer's declaratory judgment action on its merits. Although appellant argued that he was an insured occupant of the underinsured motorist's car because he landed on the car after the impact, the Supreme Court concluded that the superior court did not err in granting summary judgment to the underinsured motorist's insurer because appellant did not occupy the vehicle at the time of the accident and thus was not insured under the insurance policy. The superior court also did not err in concluding that the underinsured motorist was not a real party in interest and dismissing third-party claims against him.