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Following a 3-day bench trial, Johnson & Bell Shareholder, Glenn F. Fencl, obtained judgment in favor of his client in an insurance coverage lawsuit in which the plaintiff sought recovery of $416,000.   The coverage dispute arose out of an underlying lawsuit involving a fatal car accident that settled for $2.2 million via mediation.   The plaintiff in the coverage case insured the company that allegedly owned the vehicle that caused the car accident.  Johnson & Bell’s client had a primary policy for the owner of the company, individually, but only for non-owned auto coverage plus an umbrella policy. Our client contributed to the settlement out of its umbrella policy, but disputed the existence of coverage under the primary policy. The plaintiff in the coverage case sued our client, claiming that its primary policy applied and thus sought recovery of $416,000 expended in settlement of the wrongful death case.   Fencl argued that his client, who admitted coverage under its umbrella policy, was not responsible under its primary policy due to certain exclusions to coverage; specifically, that its named insured was an owner of the subject vehicle due to the inclusion of his name on the certificate of title. In response, the plaintiff asserted that the intent of the purchase and actual use of the vehicle for business purposes proved sole ownership by its insured, thus triggering non-owned automobile coverage. The Court ultimately ruled in a written decision that the plaintiff did not overcome the presumption of ownership created by the certificate of title and that our client’s primary policy did not apply to the accident.

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