Gilbertson v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins.

845 F.2d 245

 

RULE:

The mere fact that the use of a vehicle precedes an accident is not sufficient to establish a causal connection.

FACTS:

A man borrowed his girlfriend's uninsured car and drove onto a highway overpass.  He then threw a rock onto plaintiffs' car. The district court for the Western District of Oklahoma granted summary judgment to defendant State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company, holding that plaintiffs’ automobile accident and ensuing injuries were beyond the coverage of the uninsured motorist clause in plaintiffs’ policy because they did not arise out of the operation, maintenance, or use of the uninsured vehicle. Plaintiffs appealed.

ISSUE:

Did the automobile accident “arise out of the operation, maintenance, and use” of the girlfriend's uninsured vehicle?

ANSWER:

No.

CONCLUSION:

Plaintiffs claim that the following actions demonstrate that the accident arose out of the operation and use of the girlfriend's car:  driving the car to the vicinity of the overpass, using the car to locate a rock, and then using the car to transport both himself and the rock to the place on the overpass from which he dropped the rock.The accident must be actively connected with the use of the vehicle. In the present case, however, the car was parked and both the thrower and the plaintiffs were physically separated from it. The injury was caused by the rock falling from the overpass -- not by any use of the vehicle.

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