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American Casualty Co. v. Lattanzio

Decided: February 7, 1963.

AMERICAN CASUALTY COMPANY, A CORPORATION, PLAINTIFF,
v.
DEANNA LATTANZIO, BENJAMIN G. LATTANZIO, ANN LATTANZIO, LOUIS MATARANGOLO, AN INFANT BY HIS GUARDIAN AD LITEM, LILLIAN MATARANGOLO, AND LILLIAN MATARANGOLO INDIVIDUALLY, AND CORNELIUS H. GRONDIN, SR., AND CORNELIUS H. GRONDIN, JR., INDIVIDUALLY AND PARTNERS, T/A GRONDIN DETECTIVE AGENCY, DEFENDANTS



Labrecque, J.s.c.

Labrecque

[78 NJSuper Page 406] In this case the plaintiff American Casualty Company seeks a declaratory judgment that a policy of insurance issued by it to Deanna Doros, now Deanna Lattanzio, does not insure Benjamin G. Lattanzio, her husband, in connection with a certain accident in which the defendant Louis Matarangolo, an infant, sustained injuries on July 25,

1960. The defendants Grondin are made parties as the asserted employers of Lattanzio at the time of the happening of the accident in question. The defendant Ann Lattanzio is made a party as the owner, and defendant Benjamin G. Lattanzio as the driver, of the vehicle involved in the accident.

The policy in question, which was denominated a family automobile policy, was originally issued on July 17, 1959 and was renewed on July 17, 1960 for an additional year. On May 28, 1960 Deanna Doros, the named assured, married Benjamin G. Lattanzio. By the terms of the policy the words "named assured" included her "spouse if a resident of the same household." The policy covered the operation of both owned and non-owned automobiles. A non-owned automobile was defined in the policy as: "An automobile or trailer not owned by or furnished for the regular use of either the named assured or any relative, other than a temporary substitute automobile." The policy specifically covered a 1951 Ford owned by Deanna Lattanzio.

On the day of the happening of the accident Benjamin G. Lattanzio, while operating a 1957 Lincoln car owned by his mother, was involved in a collision with the infant defendant Matarangolo, a pedestrian. Suit was instituted by Lillian Matarangolo, as guardian ad litem and individually, against Lattanzio, his mother Ann Lattanzio, and his part-time employers, the Grondins. Following service upon the Lattanzios in February 1962, the plaintiff denied coverage and filed the present suit. Its denial of coverage is premised upon its assertion that the Lincoln was an automobile "furnished for the regular use" of Benjamin by his mother, Ann, citing Farm Bureau Mutual Automobile Ins. Co. v. Marr , 128 F. Supp. 67 (D.N.J. 1955); Rodenkirk for use of Deitenbach v. State Farm Mut. Automobile Ins. Co. , 325 Ill. App. 421, 60 N.E. 2 d 269 (App. Ct. 1945); and the dissenting opinion in Travelers Indemnity Company v. Hyde , 232 Ark. 1020, 342 S.W. 2 d 295, 298 (Sup. Ct. 1961).

From the testimony and exhibits before the court it appears, and the court finds, that prior to his marriage in May

1960 Benjamin G. Lattanzio resided with his mother in Woodbridge Township and was employed by the Post Office Department. He was also employed on a part-time basis by the Grondin Detective Agency. His brother Daniel resided in the same household and also was a part-time employee of Grondin.

The Lincoln automobile which Benjamin was driving at the time of the accident had been purchased by his mother, Ann Lattanzio, prior to the time that he began work for the detective agency. There were two other vehicles in the household, a Ford owned by Daniel and a truck owned by Mr. Lattanzio, the husband of Ann. The Lincoln had been used on occasion by Benjamin before he secured part-time employment with the agency. This use was generally granted upon a request made of the mother, who retained possession of the keys.

After having been accepted as a trainee by the detective agency, Benjamin continued to be allowed the occasional use of the car. While still a trainee he purchased a two-way radio with the probable intention of using it in connection with some phase of the detective business. With the mother's permission it was installed in her Lincoln.

After the marriage Benjamin and his wife moved to their own apartment. Thereafter, when he had occasion to use an automobile, he used her 1951 Ford, which was insured by the policy in question. The coverage of the policy was extended to him as husband of the named assured, Deanna.

On the evening of the accident he had an opportunity to put in several hours at his part-time job. By the time he received the call, his wife had already taken the Ford. He thereupon called his mother and was given permission to take the Lincoln. It was while returning home several hours later that he met with the accident which gave rise to the present suit.

In Farm Bureau Mutual Automobile Ins. Co. v. Marr, supra , cited by the plaintiff, an insurer was granted a declaratory judgment of ...


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