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Insurance – Auto – Civil Practice – Declaratory Judgment Action – Necessary Parties – Car Sale – Conditional Delivery

The defendant-estate’s decedent tried to buy a car from the defendant-dealership on a Saturday and took conditional delivery of the car under G.S. § 20-75.1 pending credit approval; that same day, the decedent was involved in an accident that took his life and severely injured plaintiffs. The car had been on the dealership’s lot after having been leased and returned with a balance remaining on the lease payments; consequently, at the time the decedent took conditional delivery, the car still belonged to the leasing company rather than the dealership. As a result, the leasing company and its insurer – who are not named as parties – are necessary parties to this lawsuit, which seeks to determine insurance obligations applicable to the accident.

We vacate the trial court’s declaratory judgment – which determined that the dealership’s insurer provided primary liability insurance coverage and that the decedent’s personal insurer provided excess coverage – and remand for further proceedings.

Smith v. USAA Casualty Insurance Co. (Lawyers Weekly No. 011-256-18, 17 pp.) (Mark Davis, J.) Appealed from Hoke County Superior Court (Richard Brown, J.) Thomas Van Camp for plaintiffs; Elizabeth Martineau, Lee Thomas and James Dedman for defendants. N.C. App.

 


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