Law School Case Brief
Sec. Mut. Cas. Co. v. Pacura - 402 So. 2d 1266 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1981)
The right of a third party beneficiary to sue under a contract is recognized in Florida, but that right is limited to those situations where the provisions of the contract clearly show an intention primarily and directly to benefit the individual bringing suit or to a class of persons to which he claims to belong as a third party beneficiary.
On Jan. 3, 1975, plaintiff Janice Pacura was a passenger in her own automobile, which was being driven by Charles Whiddon. The automobile, which was not covered by any kind of insurance, was involved in an accident. Pacura mobile was injured, resulting in medical bills in excess of $ 6,000.00. Whiddon (the driver) was the son of the named insured of an automobile policy issued by defendant, Security Mutual Casualty Company ("Security"). At the time of the accident, Whiddon was a resident of the same household as the named insured of the policy. The policy did not specifically include third party beneficiaries in its coverage section. As a result of the accident, Pacura filed a lawsuit against Security in Florida state court seeking uninsured motorist benefits and medical expense benefits. The trial court dismissed the uninsured motorist benefits claim with prejudice and granted Security summary judgment on the medical expense benefits claim but, on rehearing, reversed itself and denied Security's motion for summary judgment. Pacura's subsequent motion for a summary judgment on her medical expense benefits claim was granted, with a summary judgment for such benefits entered in her behalf. Security challenged the award of summary judgment arguing that Pacura was not covered as a third party beneficiary.
Was Pacura entitled to medical expense benefits?
The appellate court reversed the trial court's judgment. The insurance policy issued to the father of driver of the automobile that struck Pacura did not primarily and directly include third party beneficiaries as parties to be benefited by the policy. The court noted that in Florida, for the right of a third party beneficiary to sue under a contract, the provisions of the contract had to clearly show an intention primarily and directly to benefit the individual bringing suit or to a class of persons to which he claims to belong as a third party beneficiary. Without such direct inclusion the suit failed. The court remanded the case with directions to enter a judgment for Security.
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