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On Nov. 23, the Appellate Division decided Rafanello v. Taylor-Esquivel, a case marked for publication. Although Rafanello arises in an insurance context, it is primarily a statutory construction decision that reflects statutory language that determines state policy by directing an outcome on a basis far broader than the narrow coverage and exclusions contained in a liability policy.

The facts of the case are simple and straightforward. Plaintiff Rafanello was injured when rear-ended by a dump truck operated by defendant, Taylor-Esquivel, during the course of his employment with NAB Trucking. Rafanello carried his own automobile insurance with Encompass Property & Casualty Insurance Company, having UM/UIM coverage of $250,000 per person and $500,000 per accident. NAB also had a $750,000 liability policy for the dump truck from American Millennium Insurance Company (AMIC). However, the policy included a step-down provision which provided for maximum liability coverage only in the sum of $35,000, for accidents involving drivers not listed as a “Covered Driver” under the policy. Taylor-Esquivel was not listed as a covered driver, although it had been NAB’s intent to include him as a covered driver under the $750,000 AMIC liability policy.


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