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The New Jersey Superior Court, Appellate Division, was called upon to resolve a dispute between Andres Espinoza and GRM Enterprises, U-Save Auto Rental  aka Almost New Rentals (collectively GRM), and Lincoln General Insurance Co. (LGI) (collectively, “defendants”) in Andres Espinoza v. Darnell R. Thompson, Darnell M. Thompson, American Transports, No. A-1427-10T3 (N.J.Super.App.Div. 01/10/2012). 

The plaintiff was injured when the bicycle he was riding struck the passenger door of a vehicle operated by defendant, Darnell R. Thompson, and owned by GRM. Thompson had rented the car from GRM. Thompson was a passenger in the car at the time, although it is unclear from the record whether he opened the door that struck plaintiff. Plaintiff filed a negligence complaint against Darnell R. Thompson and GRM.

Related: Read a previous column “Who’s an Employee?” by Barry Zalma.

Discovery revealed that when he rented the vehicle, Thompson purchased a supplemental liability insurance (SLI) policy. The vehicle also was covered by a mandatory minimum liability policy issued to GRM by LGI. Plaintiff’s unsuccessful attempts to obtain discovery, including information from GRM regarding the SLI policy and any premium payments GRM may have made to the policy’s issuer, led to an order striking GRM’s answer and defenses.

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