Successful Motions for Summary Judgment in Wrongful Death Case

John Farmer and Lisa Freund were recently successful in obtaining summary judgments in a declaratory relief action in Marin County, to establish the lack of coverage for damages arising from the alleged wrongful death of the named insured under the applicable policy.  In State Farm v. Ranft, the named insured, a Pixar Studios executive, was riding as a passenger in his own vehicle, driven by a permissive user.  As the vehicle approached a bridge, it was either struck by another vehicle passing on the left over the double yellow lines, or otherwise forced to veer to the right.  The vehicle went off the bridge and into the river below.  Unfortunately, the named insured and the permissive driver died in the accident although a third passenger escaped.  The survivors of the named insured sued the other driver, the estate of the permissive driver and the State of California for multi-millions of dollars in loss of support and future income.  The State cross-complained for indemnity against the estate of the permissive driver.  The State Farm policy describing the car excluded liability coverage for “bodily injury to any insured.”  In its ruling on State Farm’s summary judgment motions in the DRA as to both the plaintiffs’ claims in the complaint and the State’s indemnity claim in the cross-complaint, the court found that the exclusion applied, such that State Farm had no duty to defend or indemnify.  Mr. Farmer and Ms. Freund continued their success in this matter in defense of the appeal. The California Court of Appeal, First Appellate District affirming the judgment in full.

Mr. Farmer and Ms. Freund continued their success in this matter in defense of the appeal. The California Court of Appeal, First Appellate District issued an unpublished opinion on January 30, 2009 affirming the judgment in full.

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