In August of 2009, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit decided a case involving a woman who was raped after taking a taxi. (See Morell v. Star Taxi 343 Fed. Appx. 54, (C.A.6 (Ky.)). In Morell, Ms. Morell took home a tax on May 21, 2006. Id. After she got out, the taxi driver followed her into her home and raped her. Id. She then filed suit alleging both physical and emotional injuries as a result of the rape. Id. The trial court granted her summary judgment against the defendants deciding the issue that the insurance policy in effect did apply. Id. The insurance company appealed. Id. This Federal Appellate Court reversed holding that the insurance policy in effect did not apply in this Louisville car accident case. Id. The facts are as follows.
Ms. Morell took a taxi home in May of 2006. Id. The taxi driver followed her to her home and raped her. Id. Ms. Morell sued and filed a motion for summary judgment claiming that the car insurance in effect for the taxi covered her as she was injured immediately after taking the taxi ride. Id. The trial court looked at the insurance coverage policy and found that the policy covered an accident which meant a “sudden event neither expected nor intended from the standpoint of the insured which results in bodily injury or property damage.” Id. The trial court held that the rape was a sudden unexpected event and since it was the ‘use’ of the taxi that lead to the rape, that the attack was still part of the series of events surrounding the use of the taxi and thus sufficiently connected to the taxi; thus holding the policy applied. Id.
The Appellate Court did not agree. It first looked to see if the rape arose out of the use of a motor vehicle? It looked at two cases where in one a man was hit on the head with a baseball bat while attempting to enter his automobile. And in another a man was shot by his deranged brother through the rear window of his car on a public highway. Id. The Court looked at other statutes which the Court has framed to apply if 1) whether the injured persons were motor vehicle accident victims, and 2) whether their injures arose out of the use of a motor vehicle. Id. The Kentucky Supreme Court in both of the above cases held that he injured persons were not motor vehicle accident victims and that their injuries did not arise out of the ‘use’ of a motor vehicle. Id. Though the accidents were unexpected and unforeseeable, no motor vehicle accident contributed to their injuries. Id. (So, their Louisville car accident lawyer had a very difficult case to win).
The Appellate Court found other cases which held that there had to be a casual connection between the use of the car and the injury. Id. In one case, the Kentucky Supreme Court held that “the injury in the instant case was not sufficiently use-connected to be considered reasonably to have been within the contemplation of the parties to the automobile insurance contracts here involved. (cites omitted). Id.
Thus, in Morell, the Appellate Court held that Ms. Morell was not a victim of “a motor vehicle accident because the taxi did not contribute to her injures. Further, although her injuries occurred just after making use of the taxi, those injuries did not “arise out of” her “use” of the taxi.” Id.
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