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Lukk v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co.

Superior Court of Delaware, New Castle

May 12, 2014

COTTY JAAK LUKK, Plaintiff,
v.
STATE FARM MUTUAL AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendant.

Submitted: March 31, 2014

Decided: March 31, 2014

Upon Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment DENIED.

Joseph J. Longobardi, III, Esquire, Longobardi & Boyle, LLC, Wilmington, Delaware, Attorney for Plaintiff.

Colin M. Shalk, Esquire, Casarino, Christman, Shalk, Ransom & Doss, P.A., Wilmington, Delaware, Attorney for Defendant.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Paul R. Wallace, Judge.

I. Introduction

Plaintiff Cotty Jaak Lukk ("Mr. Lukk") has filed a claim against State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company ("State Farm") for breach of contract for failing to pay underinsured motorist benefits pursuant Mr. Lukk's father's State Farm insurance policy (the "Policy").[1] Mr. Lukk alleges that he is entitled to benefits under a "Resident Relative" clause in the Policy.[2] He has moved for summary judgment, urging, inter alia, the Court to interpret the Policy's primary residency requirement as void against public policy.[3] State Farm argues that: (1) the Policy's language is valid and enforceable; (2) that language does not allow Mr. Lukk's father to claim that his son "resides primarily" in more than one household; and (3) the evidence demonstrates that Mr. Lukk did not primarily reside with his father as the Policy requires.[4] For the following reasons, Mr. Lukk's Motion for Summary Judgment is DENIED.

II. Factual and Procedural Background

On June 6, 2010, Mr. Lukk was seriously injured in an accident that took place in Indiana County, Pennsylvania while he was the passenger in a friend's truck.[5] Mr. Lukk's friend was liable for the one-vehicle accident and Mr. Lukk collected the $35, 000.00 policy limit from his friend's insurance company.[6] He then made a claim for Underinsured Motorist Coverage ("UIM") through the Policy.[7] State Farm denied coverage alleging that if Mr. Lukk's primary residence was with a parent, it was with his mother and, thus, he was not covered under the Policy.[8]

At the time of the accident, Mr. Lukk was an adult, living in his own apartment and attending a technical college in Western Pennsylvania.[9] During Mr. Lukk's childhood, his parents shared equal custody and he alternated between their houses week-by-week.[10] During his childhood and into adulthood, Mr. Lukk maintained a bedroom with furniture, clothing and personal effects in both his father's and his mother's home.[11] Mr. Lukk's father and mother jointly shared his expenses including his car insurance payments, cell phone payments and spending money.[12] Mr. Lukk had access to two vehicles, one registered to his father and the other registered to his mother.[13] Mr. Lukk's primary source of income was from both his parents and was additionally supplemented by student loans.[14]

Mr. Lukk has filed a breach of contract action in this Court against State Farm.[15] Mr. Lukk claims that he incurred substantial medical injuries from the accident while he was an insured resident relative pursuant to the Policy.[16]According to Mr. Lukk, State Farm breached the Policy when it refused to pay him underinsured motorist benefits and he demands full payment of those underinsured motorist benefits, costs and interest.[17] He now seeks summary judgment on this claim.[18]

III. Parties' Contentions

Mr. Lukk says that he is entitled to summary judgment because, in his view, the Policy improperly restricts access to uninsured/underinsured motorist benefits and is therefore void as against public policy.[19] Mr. Lukk challenges the ...


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