Sackett V. Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company - Wilkes-Barre, Scranton Personal Injury Lawyers

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Sackett V. Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company

Today, the Superior Court issued its opinion in Sackett v. Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company, which will now be known as Sackett III. The opinion by Judge Allen holds that the Trial Court correctly decided on remand that a vehicle was NOT added under a newly/after acquired vehicle clause in an insurance policy and the insurer should have had the insured sign a new rejection of stacking form, in order for non-stacking to apply when adding an additional car to a two car policy. Then the insured should have received a new stacking rejection waiver when adding a single car to a two car policy.

After Sackett I and Sackett II the Supreme Court remanded this case to the trial court where a nonjury trial was held in the case on October 15, 2008. Victor Sackett (“Sackett”) was seriously injured in a car accident while a passenger in another car. He obtained the third party liability limits and the underinsured motorist (“UIM”) limits on the vehicle he was occupying at the time of the accident. He then sought additional UIM coverage on his own personal policy with Nationwide.

Sackett purchased coverage initially in 1998 with two (2) vehicles and no stacking on the policy. Prior to the accident he added a third vehicle to the policy and no new forms were signed regarding UM or UIM coverage or stacking. Sackett argued that he had stacking since a new rejection of stacking form was not executed when the third car was added.

Adopting the argument made by Ron Bergman, Josh Geist and I, The Superior Court, as did the trial court, writes in its decision that in Sackett v. Nationwide Mut. Ins. Co., 919 A.2d 194 (Pa. 2007) (Sackett I) the Supreme Court mandated that a new rejection form is required when a new vehicle is added to a policy. However, that holding was only modified in Sackett v. Nationwide Mut. Ins. Co., 940 A.2d 329 (Pa. 2007) (Sackett II), and states the first Sackett requirement does not apply if a vehicle is added under a newly acquired vehicle clause and such a clause is present under the facts of the case.

Just as the trial court, the Superior Court finds that Sackett did not add any vehicles under the newly-acquired vehicle clause contained in the insurance policy. Additional rejection stacking forms were required under Sackett I, and were not signed. Thus, the Sacketts were entitled to stacking under Sackett I.

By: Scott B. Cooper, Esquire

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