Appellate Court Finds That Insurance Policy Exclusion Applied to Claim by Long-Term Care Patient Who Fell from a Wheelchair Lift

A Louisiana State Appellate Court has held that the automobile policy exclusion in a long-term care and general liability insurance policy applied to claims barred on behalf of a patient who fell from a van’s wheelchair lift.

In this case, Shirley Ann Marzell, who was a patient at the Charlyn Rehabilitation and Nursing Center, was placed in her wheelchair onto the lift platform of the facility’s van. When her assistant moved away from her, Marzell’s weight shifted and the wheelchair rolled off the platform. She struck her head on the pavement. Marzell and her two daughters filed suit against American Safety & Indemnity Co., the insurance company that insured Charlyn Enterprises, the owner of the rehab center.

The insurance company moved for summary judgment maintaining that the automobile exclusion in Charlyn’s insurance policy applied to this lawsuit.  That provision stated in part that the insurance policy did not apply to any claim arising out of the use of an automobile, including acts of loading or unloading. The trial judge granted the motion for summary judgment dismissing the case. An appeal was taken.

The appeals panel affirmed the trial judge’s granting of the summary judgment noting that to constitute “use” of an automobile, the alleged misconduct must flow from such use.

In this case, the court found that the accident flowed from placing Marzell onto the van lift, which is a typical use of the Charlyn Rehabilitation and Nursing Center’s automobile.

The appeals panel cited case law that the term “use” is broad and implies simple employment for the user’s purposes. Getting in and out of an automobile is an integral part of operating any vehicle.

The court concluded that the conduct at issue fell within the automobile use exclusion in the Charlyn’s insurance policy.  Accordingly, summary judgment was found to be proper in this case and thus affirmed the decision of the trial court.

Marzell v. Charlyn Enterprises, LLC, 2017 WL 603974 (La. Ct. App.).

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling nursing home abuse cases, nursing home injury cases, nursing home bedsore cases and medical negligence lawsuits for individuals, families and the loved ones who have been injured, harmed or killed by the negligence of a medical provider for more than 40 years, in and around Chicago, Cook County and its surrounding areas, including Bridgeview, Mount Prospect, Niles, Morton Grove, Evanston, Wheaton, Joliet, Waukegan, Woodstock, Crystal Lake, Cary, Crete, Alsip, Gurnee, Round Lake Beach, Countryside, Chicago (Marquette Park, Edgewater, Lakeview, Lincoln Park, Old Town, Gold Coast, Roscoe Village, Albany Park, Goose Island, West Loop, Near South, Pilsen, Oakland, Kenwood, Woodlawn, Avalon Park, Calumet Heights, Pill Hill, Chatham), Evergreen Park and Summit, Ill.

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