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Motorcycle Club Member Claims "What’s Yours is Mine." Indiana Federal Court Disagrees.

June 4, 2015

After a two-day bench trial in Federal Court in the Northern District of Indiana, Judge Van Bokkelen found in favor of our insurance company client, ruling that it was entitled to declaratory judgment and had no duty to defend or indemnify the defendant.  Johnson & Bell Shareholder, Edward W. Hearn, represented the insurance company in court.  This case concerned a motorcycle accident involving two passengers:  a male driver and a female passenger.  Both individuals suffered serious injuries.  However, the motorcycle involved in the accident was owned by a third individual, who argued that he never gave permission to the defendants to use his motorcycle.  The female passenger filed suit against the man operating the motorcycle.  That individual in turn sought coverage under the motorcycle owner’s policy.  The driver of the motorcycle argued that because he and the owner of the motorcycle belonged to the same Outlaws Motorcycle Club and that the Club’s creed suggested a shared ownership of property, he had implied permission to use the motorcycle.  However, the court interpreted the Club’s creed to mean that each member’s property is their own and their individual property rights are to be respected.  The court concluded that the male driver did not have express or implied permission to use the owner’s motorcycle and entered a declaratory judgment in favor of Johnson & Bell’s client.

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