The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania recently remanded a case, which it deemed to be more suitably addressed by state courts. In <em>Lambert v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance</em>, the plaintiff Dawn Lambert was a passenger on a motorcycle that crashed. The plaintiff sought coverage from the driver in addition to stacked coverage from the three multi-vehicle policies that had been purchased by her husband. One of the husband’s insurers denied coverage, citing that the plaintiff’s husband had waived stacked coverage. The plaintiff argued that her husband had only waived intra-policy stacking as opposed to inter-policy stacking.
The plaintiff argued that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s 2006 opinion in <em>Craley v. State Farm </em>left the question of the differences between waiver for inter versus intra-policy stacking open for interpretation by the state courts. The Third Circuit agreed, finding that Pennsylvania state courts had not reached a well settled conclusion on inter-policy stacking of multi-vehicle policies. Going further, the Court ruled that entertaining jurisdiction over declaratory judgment actions which may be candidates for certification for the state’s highest court would be counterproductive.
Until this unsettled question of state law is addressed by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, automobile insurance carriers should seek to eliminate any ambiguities between rejection of intra-policy or inter-policy stacking.
Thank you to Hunter McMullin for his contribution to this post. Please email <a href="mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org">Colleen E. Hayes</a> with any questions.