Thomas v. Titan Auto

/ 06.Oct, 2010
There have been some recent decisions of note and interest.  In Thomas v. Titan Auto Ins. Co., Phila Ct. Common Pl. No. 10-3193 (September 16, 2010) (Tereshko, J.), the Court addressed the joinder of tort and uninsured motorist claims in the Post-Koken context.  In that case the Court held that negligence claims against the uninsured tortfeasor could not be joined with the contractual uninsured motorist claim against the UM insurer.  Accordingly, the contractual uninsured motorist claims were severed from the tort claims.  The Court reasoned that the plaintiff could not present the tort claim to the jury without injecting the issue of insurance into the case.  The Court reasoned that if the contract claims were heard along with the negligence claims, the jury would be informed that the defendant did not have insurance and a potential for a higher award against the insurer would be created.  Interestingly, the contractual uninsured motorist claim remained in Pennsylvania because the defendant, insurance companies, regularly conducted business in Philadelphia.  At the same time, the tort claims were transferred to Montgomery County because the accident occurred in Montgomery County and the parties were both residents of Montgomery County.