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Posted by: Chandra Williams on Feb 4, 2016

Court: TN Court of Appeals

Attorneys 1:

Robert E. Pryor, Jr., Knoxville, Tennessee, for appellant, Kanika Dembla.

Attorneys 2:

Jon M. Cope, Knoxville, Tennessee, for appellee, Tennessee Farmers Mutual Insurance Company.

Judge(s): SUSANO

This case presents a question regarding insurance coverage under liability and umbrella policies issued by plaintiff Tennessee Farmers Mutual Insurance Company to Jerry Dale Robertson and Sherry Ann Robertson. In July 2012, the Robertsons’ house sitter and close family friend, Shaun Dunlap, used Dale Robertson’s 2011 Ford Ranger pickup truck (the insured vehicle), on a personal errand to pick up a friend. On the return trip, the insured vehicle crossed the center line of the road, causing a head-on collision that killed three members of the Dembla family. Tennessee Farmers brought this declaratory judgment action seeking a judicial finding of no coverage under the policies because Dunlap was operating the insured vehicle without the permission of the insured. Defendant Kanika Dembla, the lone survivor in the Demblas’ car, who had brought an underlying tort action against Dunlap, answered and argued that although Dunlap had no express permission to drive the insured vehicle, he had implied permission under the circumstances. On cross motions for summary judgment, the trial court granted summary judgment to Tennessee Farmers, finding that Dunlap did not have implied permission to drive the insured vehicle while housesitting. We affirm.