Heard in the Court of Appeals April 7, 2014.
This Decision is not final until expiration of the twenty-one day rehearing period. [North Carolina Rules of Appellate Procedure 32(b)]
Forsyth County. No. 12 CVS 6350. A Moses Massey, Judge.
Bennett & Guthrie, P.L.L.C., by Roberta King Latham, for plaintiff-appellant.
Mills & Levine, by Michael J. Greer, for defendant-appellee Leslie Taylor.
MARTIN, Chief Judge. Judges McGEE and CALABRIA concur.
Appeal by plaintiff from order entered 12 August
2013 by Judge A. Moses Massey in Forsyth County Superior Court.
MARTIN, Chief Judge.
Plaintiff Integon National Insurance Company filed this action seeking a declaration of its obligations to provide coverage pursuant to a business automobile liability insurance policy issued to defendant Helping Hands Specialized Transport, Inc. for the alleged personal injuries and death of Mary Lewis Faggart Smith which arose out of an incident on 24 May 2010. Defendant Leslie Taylor is Ms. Smith's niece and the executor of Ms. Smith's estate. Ms. Taylor, through counsel, accepted service of process and filed an answer. Helping Hands was served with process, but failed to answer or otherwise respond to the complaint, and its default was entered by the Clerk of Superior Court. After discovery, both Integon and Ms. Taylor filed motions for summary judgment.
The materials before the trial court at the summary judgment hearing tended to show that at the time of Ms. Smith's injury, Helping Hands had a business automobile insurance policy with Integon which insured against liability for damages " caused by an accident and resulting from the ownership, maintenance or use of a covered" vehicle.
The materials also disclosed that prior to 24 May 2010, Ms. Smith had been hospitalized at Carolinas Medical Center and her treating physician had determined that she was nearing the end of her life and recommended to Ms. Taylor that she arrange for palliative care for her aunt. Ms. Taylor contracted with Hospice of Cabarrus County to provide hospice care for Ms. Smith at Ms. Smith's home. Hospice arranged for Helping Hands to transport Ms. Smith from the hospital to her home on May 24th. A Helping Hands handicapped accessible van, driven by Helping Hands driver Robert Brennan, went to the hospital on that date. Ms. Smith, who was seated in a Geri-chair, was loaded into the van and Mr. Brennan transported her safely to her residence, where Ms. Taylor was waiting.
There was also evidence tending to show that prior to the van's arrival, Ms. Taylor had received two telephone calls asking whether a ramp would be needed to negotiate the steps to Ms. Smith's home, and she responded that a ramp would be needed. The record is unclear as to whether these inquiries were made by Helping ...