We previously discussed the potential significance of an MCS-90 insurance policy endorsement in a truck accident case in discussing Prime Insurance Co. v. Wright. Such an endorsement is considered a guarantee of sorts, or suretyship, by an insurance company that a federally-regulated motor carrier will meet its public financial responsibility obligation under the Motor Carrier Act of 1980 as required and regulated by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
Recently, in Progressive Southeastern Insurance Co. v Brown, the Indiana Supreme Court addressed whether an MCS-90 endorsement applies when a commercial truck crash occurs during an intrastate trip involving the transportation of non-hazardous cargo. In Brown, the commercial truck driver, Bruce Brown, an employee of B&T Bulk, a Mishawaka-based motor carrier out of Mishawaka, Indiana, was driving a truck and empty trailer when his truck crossed the centerline, striking another vehicle killing the driver, Dona Johnson.
Ms. Johnson’s surviving spouse brought a wrongful death case against Brown and B&T on his own behalf and on behalf of his widow’s estate. Progressive Southeastern Insurance Company then filed a separate declaratory judgment case against Johnson, B&T and Brown requesting a declaration from the court that it should not owe any duty to defend or indemnify B&T or Brown, because the insurance policy it had issued did not include the truck and trailer and, although Progressive had provided B&T with an MCS-90 endorsement, the endorsement should not apply. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company, Johnson’s insurer, intervened in the case and joined with Johnson’s widow and her estate, Brown, and B&T, in arguing that the MCS-90 endorsement should apply binding Progressive to pay any final judgment in the case. The trial court agreed with Progressive that the truck and trailer were not insured autos and that Progressive had no duty to defend or indemnify Brown. However, the trial court found the MCS-90 endorsement applied, which ruling Progressive appealed.