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Scott Cooper
Scott Cooper
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Box Falling Off Car May Give Rise To Pennsylvania Uninsured Motorist Claim

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Attached is the link to the Precedential Opinion from the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, last week, in Allstate Property and Casualty Insurance Company v. Squires. The case involves the appeal of a District Court order dismissing a claim for uninsured motorist coverage after an insured was injured in a car accident. The insured Squires was injured after swerving to avoid an approximately two-foot square cardboard box lying in the middle of his lane of travel. The parties stipulated that an unidentified vehicle had to have dropped the box. The District Court held that, as a matter of law, the accident caused by a box which fell from an unidentifed vehicle cannot be considered to have arisen out of the "ownership, maintenance or use of an autmobile." The case was dismissed on a Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings. Squires appealed.

The Third Circuit reverses and holds that, as plead, the box falling off the unidentifed vehicle may, as a matter of law, considered to be "arising out of" the ownership, maintenance or use of the vehicle. Relying mainly upon the Pennsylvania Supreme Court opinion in Manufacturers Casualty Insurance Co. v. Goodville Mutual Insurance Co., 170 A.2d 571 (Pa. 1961) the federal appeals court finds that a "but for" test is the necessary analysis to review the pleading for coverage and "Squires at this time only need to have alleged adequately that the unidentifiable vehicle's use was a but-for cause of his injuries" so the case should be re-instated. He will still need to show the uninsured veihcle proximately caused his injuries.


Scott B. Cooper