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Weber v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co.

North Dakota Supreme Court
284 N.W.2d 299 (1979)


Facts

Robert Weber was driving his pickup truck to go hunting with his wife, Virginia (plaintiff) who was in the passenger seat of the vehicle, Brian Bradberry who sat behind Robert, and John Gabby who sat behind Virginia. Upon spotting some deer crossing the road, Robert quickly pulled the truck over to the side of the road and into a ditch. As the pickup slowed to a halt, Gabby jumped out of the rear door and, as he was exiting the truck, fed shells into his high-powered rifle. As Gabby closed the bolt of the gun it discharged. The bullet entered the truck and struck Robert in the back as he sat behind the wheel. Robert later died. Virginia filed suit against State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company (State Farm) (defendant) after the insurance company denied her demand for death benefits under a policy she and Robert held with State Farm. After a bench trial, the court found that Robert was occupying the vehicle within the meaning of the insurance policy and was entitled to benefits under the North Dakota Auto Accident Reparations Act, more commonly known as the No-Fault Insurance Act (the Act). The court awarded Virginia the policy amount of $15,000, $1,000 for funeral expenses, and $14,000 as survivor’s income loss. State Farm appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Paulson, J.)

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