Split Supreme Court Rules Insurance Company Released from Duty After Driver Knowingly Operates with Faulty Brakes
Justices of the Indiana Supreme Court decided in a 3-2 vote last week to let stand a ruling that an insurance company owes no duty to victims of a truck crash in which the driver knowingly operated the vehicle with faulty brakes.
The case arose after a driver for Old National’s insured, C&K Transport Inc., stopped at a weigh station in Ohio and discovered the truck’s brakes were not working. The driver called C&K owner William Hackney, who told the driver to drive the truck to Mitchell, Indiana, on a route that did not have weigh stations. The driver refused, and Hackney drove to the weigh station and took the truck from the driver. Hackney drove the truck on the route himself without first making any repairs.
A short time later that night, Hackney’s truck struck a vehicle driven by Edward Megel on U.S. 50 in which Megel’s wife, JoAnn, and granddaughter, Darcy, were passengers. Edward and Darcy died in the crash and JoAnn died from injuries sustained in the crash less than two weeks later.
Suit was filed by JoAnn Darcy (the only surviving member of the Megel family who was in the truck that night) against C&K Transport and in turn Old National Insurance, as the insurer of C&K Transport. Old National filed a motion for summary judgment and the trial court denied it. Old National then appealed to the Indiana Court of Appeals.
The Indiana Court of Appeals overturned the denial of Old National’s motion for summary judgment. The Court of Appeals stated that Old National could not foresee that one of its insured would knowingly drive a semi-tractor trailer with faulty brakes.