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Cirelli v. Ohio Casualty Insurance Co.

Decided: April 7, 1975.

ALBERTO CIRELLI, PLAINTIFF,
v.
THE OHIO CASUALTY INSURANCE CO., AND RICHARD C. MCDONOUGH, NEW JERSEY COMMISSIONER OF INSURANCE, DEFENDANTS



Larner, A.j.s.c.

Larner

Alberto Cirelli instituted this action seeking a declaratory judgment relating to the nature and extent of the liability of defendant Ohio Casualty Insurance Co. (hereinafter Ohio) under an insurance policy covering the automobile owned by him. The issues were submitted to the court on a stipulation which incorporates the following operative facts.

Alberto Cirelli, the assured under the policy, sustained severe personal injuries while he was a passenger in the insured vehicle operated by his son. He subsequently died as a result of the injuries, and the executrix of his estate was substituted as plaintiff. The accident took place on March 1, 1974 in Clarkestown, New York, as a result of a collision with a vehicle owned by Mary Natelli and operated by Thomas Natelli.

The policy of insurance provided for liability coverage with limits of $15,000/$30,000 and also contained the "Basic Personal Injury Protection Endorsement" (hereinafter P.I.P.) required under the New Jersey Automobile Reparation Reform Act (N.J.S.A. 39:6A-1 et seq., hereinafter referred to as the No Fault Law).

Decedent and his son were residents of New Jersey, the insured vehicle was registered in New Jersey, and the policy was written in New Jersey. The accident took place in New York with a New York vehicle owned and operated by New York residents.

The New York vehicle of Natelli is insured by Boston Old Colony Insurance Company (hereinafter Boston) under a policy which also contains a personal injury protection endorsement required by the State of New York.

Plaintiff intends to institute an action against Natelli for decedent's pain and suffering during his lifetime and for wrongful death.

The initial issue is whether plaintiff is entitled to recover all medical expenses (approximating $120,000) incurred by decedent under the P.I.P. endorsement of the Ohio policy,

or whether the recovery is limited to $50,000 which is the P.I.P. limitation under New York law and the endorsement provision of the Boston policy covering the Natelli vehicle.

The additional issue raised by plaintiff seeks a declaration as to the validity and extent of enforceability of a provision in the P.I.P. endorsement which impresses a lien upon any recovery from a tortfeasor to the extent of moneys paid to the assured.

I

The Ohio policy, in accord with the New Jersey No Fault Law (N.J.S.A. 39:6A-4) affords unlimited coverage to the assured for medical expenses without any caveat respecting the place of accident. This unlimited coverage represents a deliberate legislative policy which is implemented by the clear language of the insurance contract.

The carrier contends that the circumstances of the occurrence of the accident in New York brings into play a conflict of laws problem which dictates that a $50,000 P.I.P. limit under the New York no fault law ...


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