Supreme Court Seal
South Carolina
JUDICIAL DEPARTMENT
Site Map | Feedback
2012-UP-308 - Affirmative Insurance v. Cruz-Campos

THIS OPINION HAS NO PRECEDENTIAL VALUE.  IT SHOULD NOT BE CITED OR RELIED ON AS PRECEDENT IN ANY PROCEEDING EXCEPT AS PROVIDED BY RULE 268(d)(2), SCACR.

THE STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA
In The Court of Appeals

Affirmative Insurance Services, Inc., Respondent,

v.

Salvador Cruz-Campos,


Appeal From Jasper County
D. Craig Brown, Circuit Court Judge


Unpublished Opinion No. 2012-UP-308
Submitted May 1, 2012 – Filed May 16, 2012   


AFFIRMED


Darrell Thomas Johnson Jr., of Hardeeville, for Appellant.

Darra J. Coleman and James K. Cluverius Jr., of Columbia, for Respondent.

PER CURIAM: Salvador Cruz-Campos (Campos) appeals the trial court's grant of summary judgment in favor of Affirmative Insurance Services, Inc. (Affirmative), arguing the trial court erred in finding Campos's injuries did not arise out of the ownership, maintenance, or use of an uninsured vehicle.  We affirm.[1]

"An appellate court reviews the grant of summary judgment under the same standard applied by the [trial] court."  Harbit v. City of Charleston, 382 S.C. 383, 389, 675 S.E.2d 776, 779 (Ct. App. 2009).  The trial court should grant summary judgment "if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law."  Rule 56(c), SCRCP.  "In determining whether any triable issues of fact exist, the evidence and all reasonable inferences must be viewed in the light most favorable to the non-moving party."  Harbit, 382 S.C. at 389-90, 675 S.E.2d at 779. 

"An insured is legally entitled to recover damages arising out of the 'ownership, maintenance, or use' of an uninsured vehicle."  State Farm Fire & Cas. Co. v. Aytes, 332 S.C. 30, 33, 503 S.E.2d 744, 745 (1998) (citing S.C. Code Ann. § 38-77-140 (1989)).  In South Carolina, the following three prong test is used for determining when an injury arises out of the ownership, maintenance, or use of an uninsured vehicle:  (1) the party seeking coverage must establish a connection between the vehicle and the injury; (2) there must exist no act of independent significance breaking the causal link; and (3) it must be shown the vehicle was being used for transportation at the time of the assault.  Id.  "The causal connection is established where it can be shown the vehicle was an 'active accessory' to the assault[,]" and the injury "must be foreseeably identifiable with the normal use of the vehicle."  Id. at 33, 503 S.E.2d at 745-46.   

Here, Campos, Jorge Luna, Carlos Abarca, and other unidentified individuals became involved in a physical altercation outside of their vehicles.  The altercation quickly escalated and resulted in the shootings of Campos and Luna, which also occurred outside of the subject vehicles.  Thus, because there was no evidence the vehicles were active accessories to the assault or that Campos's injuries were "foreseeably identifiable with the normal use" of the vehicles, no causal connection between Campos's injuries and the uninsured vehicles was established.  See id.  Further, even if a causal connection was established, it was broken when the assailants exited their vehicles.  Moreover, there was no evidence the subject vehicles were being used for transportation at the time of Campos's injuries.  

Accordingly, the trial court properly granted Affirmative's motion for summary judgment because there was no genuine issue of material fact whether Campos's injuries arose out of the ownership, maintenance, or use of an uninsured vehicle. 

AFFIRMED.

WILLIAMS, THOMAS, and LOCKEMY, JJ., concur.


[1] We decide this case without oral argument pursuant to Rule 215, SCACR.