Was driver unlicensed?
INSURANCE-RELATED COURT CASES
Digested from case reports published online
On December 14, 2018, Felicia Edwards and Robert Allen Marak were involved in a motor vehicle accident in Dadeville, Alabama. Felicia was driving a 2009 Toyota Camry that was owned by Annette Edwards and insured by Lyndon Southern Insurance Company. Marak was driving a tractor-trailer that was owned by Ben E. Keith Company, Inc. (BEK). As a result of the accident, BEK incurred damage to its tractor-trailer.
BEK sued Felicia and Annette claiming negligence and wantonness against both Felicia and Annette and made a claim of negligent entrustment against Annette. BEK later amended the complaint to add a negligent maintenance claim against Annette.
Lyndon filed a complaint for summary judgment against Felicia, Annette, and BEK, asserting that the policy it issued to Annette excluded coverage for “[a]ny operator of a vehicle who is not listed as a driver on the Policy Applications, Declarations, and/or added by Endorsement who is under the age of twenty-five and is either a Family Member or resides in the same household as the Named Insured” and for “[a]n operator of a vehicle who is an unlicensed driver or whose driving privileges have been terminated or suspended.”
The court granted Lyndon’s motion for summary judgment. BEK appealed.
On appeal, BEK argued that the trial court erroneously granted Lyndon’s motion for summary judgment because Lyndon did not produce substantial admissible evidence to establish that Felicia was a noncovered person under the policy that insured Annette’s vehicle at the time of the accident. Specifically, it contended that Lyndon did not produce substantial admissible evidence to establish that Felicia did not have a valid driver’s license at the time of the accident or to establish Felicia’s age and residence at the time of the accident.
After review, the Alabama Supreme Court concurred that Lyndon did not produce substantial evidence to establish that Felicia did not have a valid driver’s license at the time of the accident and did not produce substantial evidence to establish that Felicia was under the age of 25 and resided in Annette’s household at the time of the accident. Therefore Lyndon did not shift the burden of proof to BEK.
Accordingly, the supreme court held that the trial court erred in granting Lyndon’s motion for summary judgment. Judgment was reversed and the case was remanded.
Ben E. Keith Company, Inc., v. Lyndon Southern Insurance Company—Supreme Court of Alabama—September 24, 2021—No. CV-19-900094.