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Tantum v. Hurley

Decided: November 25, 1969.

WILFRED TANTUM, JR., PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
WILLIAM E. HURLEY, ET AL., DEFENDANTS-RESPONDENTS. CHARLESETTA HOPKINS, ET AL., PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS, V. WILLIAM E. HURLEY, DEFENDANT-RESPONDENT



On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Monmouth County.

Sullivan, Carton and Halpern. The opinion of the court was delivered by Sullivan, P.J.A.D.

Sullivan

This appeal, involving the Unsatisfied Claim and Judgment Fund Law, is from an order of the trial court denying plaintiffs' application to have their judgments against a driver of an uninsured motor vehicle paid out of the Fund. The ruling was bottomed on the trial court's determination that none of the plaintiffs was a "qualified person" under the Fund Law.

The undisputed facts of the case are as follows. On April 14, 1965 plaintiff Wilfred Tantum, Jr. was the owner of a motor vehicle in which he was riding as a passenger and which was being driven by the plaintiff Charlesetta Hopkins. Her son John Hopkins was also a passenger in the automobile. On that date the automobile was involved in a

collision with an uninsured vehicle owned and operated by defendant William E. Hurley.

The Tantum automobile was covered by a liability insurance policy issued by Concord Insurance Company on the basis of which Tantum had registered his automobile with the Motor Vehicle Department of the State of New Jersey as an insured motor vehicle.

Tantum's policy contained a provision that the carrier obligated itself to pay "to persons other than an insured" damages, etc. The policy specifically excluded from its coverage "bodily injury to any named insured or the spouse, parent, son or daughter of the insured while an occupant in the insured automobile." However, the policy also provided as follows:

When this policy is certified as proof of financial responsibility for the future under the provisions of the motor vehicle financial responsibility law of any state or province, such insurance as is afforded by this policy for bodily injury liability or for property damage liability shall comply with the provisions of such law which shall be applicable with respect to any such liability arising out of the ownership, maintenance or use of the automobile during the policy period, to the extent of the coverage and limits of liability required by such law. * * *

Following the accident Hurley sued Tantum, which suit was defended and ultimately settled by Tantum's liability carrier, Concord Insurance Company.

Tantum filed a suit against Hurley for his damages arising out of the accident and Charlesetta Hopkins and John Hopkins filed a separate suit against Hurley for their damages. Their two suits were consolidated and tried before a jury which returned a verdict in favor of Tantum for $10,000, a verdict in favor of Charlesetta Hopkins for $7,500, and a verdict in favor of John Hopkins for $200. Judgments were entered accordingly.

Applications were then filed by Tantum and the Hopkins, pursuant to N.J.S.A. 39:6-70, for payment of their judgments by the Fund. The ...


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