Ohio Underinsured Motorist Claim Not Within the Scope of Employment

Can an Employee Claim Underinsured Motorist Claim If the Employer Has a Business Auto Policy But He Was Not Within the Scope of Employment at the Time of Accident ? In Bagnoli v. Northbrook Prop. & Cas. Ins. Co (April 27, 1998), Stark App. Case No. 97 CA 00415, unreported, the Court considered an underinsured motorist claim arising out of a collision between Bagnoli, who was riding a bike, and a motor vehicle. The tortfeasor's insurer tendered policy limits of $100,000. At the time of the accident, Bagnoli was employed by Danner Press but he was not within the scope of his employment. Danner was covered under a "Business Auto Policy" which included uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage of $1,000,000. Plaintiff sought underinsured coverage. The trial court granted summary judgment to the insurer. It found that: (1) Bagnoli was not an "insured" under the policy; (2) the "covered auto" exclusion was valid and applicable; (3) Bagnoli was not acting within the course and scope of his employment at the time of the accident. Northbrook appealed those three findings. The policy language was identical to that contained in the Canton Drop Forge policy. The Bagnoli Court interpreted the language "If you are an individual" to be unambiguous. "This restrictive language clearly differentiates between corporate entities and individuals. While section B.2. seems to create an ambiguity if applied to a corporation because of the reference to a corporation's 'family member', a plain reading of the definitional section reveals that the provision applies only when the insured is an individual.Id., 2. From this, the Court of Appeals found that Bagnoli was not a named inured. The Court then found that because Bagnoli was not insured, application of the "covered auto" exclusion and determination of whether he was operating within the scope of his employment were moot issues.