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Planet Insurance Co. v. Anglo American Insurance Co.

May 22, 1998

PLANET INSURANCE COMPANY PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT,
v.
ANGLO AMERICAN INSURANCE COMPANY, LTD. DEFENDANT/THIRD-PARTY PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,
v.
INTERNATIONAL MOTOR FREIGHT, INC., THIRD-PARTY DEFENDANT. AETNA INSURANCE COMPANY, AS SUBROGEE OF BAYWAY WORLD OF LIQUORS, THIRD-PARTY PLAINTIFF,
v.
PLANET INSURANCE COMPANY, ANGLO AMERICAN INSURANCE COMPANY, LTD., EDWARD GENTILE AND CIRO GENTILE, AND INTERNATIONAL MOTOR FREIGHT, INC., THIRD-PARTY DEFENDANTS.



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

Before Judges Baime and Braithwaite.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Braithwaite, J.A.D.

Argued: April 29, 1998

Plaintiff, Planet Insurance Company (Planet), filed a declaratory judgment action seeking a determination that defendant Anglo American Insurance Company (Anglo) was obligated to provide primary liability coverage pursuant to an insurance policy issued to defendant Edward Gentile (Edward) for a motor vehicle accident that occurred on June 20, 1992. Anglo moved for summary judgment asserting, inter alia, that an exclusion in its policy precluded coverage for the accident caused by Ciro Gentile (Ciro). Planet cross-moved for summary judgment contending that the Anglo policy provided primary coverage for the accident. The judge granted Anglo's motion for summary judgment and denied Planet's cross-motion for summary judgment.

Planet now appeals and contends:

POINT I

THE ANGLO AMERICAN BOBTAIL POLICY WAS TRIGGERED AT THE TIME OF THE UNDERLYING ACCIDENT AS CIRO GENTILE WAS NOT ACTING WITHIN THE SCOPE OF THE LESSEE'S BUSINESS AT THE TIME OF THE ACCIDENT.

POINT II

AS A MATTER OF LAW, FEDERAL REGULATIONS WHICH IMPOSE STRICT LIABILITY ON A CARRIER/LESSEE DO NOT ABSOLVE A LESSOR OR ITS INSURER FROM PERFORMING CONTRACTUAL OBLIGATIONS.

POINT III

IT WAS THE REASONABLE EXPECTATION OF EDWARD GENTILE THAT BOBTAIL INSURANCE WOULD PROVIDE COVERAGE WHEN THE INSURED VEHICLE WAS NOT OPERATING UNDER DISPATCH.

We reject Planet's arguments and affirm.

I.

The facts are not in dispute. On May 22, 1991, Edward, the owner of a 1979 Mack tractor, leased the tractor to defendant International Motor Freight, Inc. (IMF), an interstate carrier licensed by the Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC). *fn1 The lease had a termination date of June 30, 1992. One provision of the lease provided that IMF assumed full responsibility for the operation of the ...


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