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Exclusion of Insurer’s Liability Ethiopian Insurance Corporation -v.- Beyan Oumar C/F/N 42139

Ethiopian Insurance Corporation –v.- Beyan Oumar

Federal Supreme Court Cassation File No. 42139 (July 7, 2009)

Holding of the Court:

The insurer does not have an obligation to pay compensation to a passenger injured while boarding an insured vehicle destined for carriage of goods.

Cassation File No. 42139 Sene 30, 2001 E.C (July 7, 2009)

Federal Supreme Court Cassation Division

Justices: Abdulkadir Mohammed, Hagos Woldu, Hirut Mellesse, Belachew Anshiso, Sultam Abatemam

Petitioner: Ethiopian Insurance Corporation

Respondent: Beyan Oumar

The court has examined the case and rendered the following judgment.

Judgment

The case concerns litigation regarding the payment of compensation. It started in the Oromia Regional State, West Harerge Zone High Court, where the current respondent was the plaintiff. Ethiopian Insurance Corporation filed a suit against the owner and the driver of the vehicle alleged to have caused the damage. The petitioner became part of the litigation because it was ordered to join the case because of its insurance contract with the defendant. In its statement of defense, the petitioner presented a preliminary objection and substantive arguments.

The Zone High Court found the defendant and the petitioner liable for the damage caused, and decided that they pay damages. The Regional Supreme Court which adjudicated the appeal confirmed the decision of the High Court. This petition is lodged to the Cassation Division of the Federal Supreme Court contesting the decision of the Regional Supreme Court.

In a petition dated 14 Tahsas 2001 (December 23, 2008), the petitioner stated the fundamental error of law allegedly committed by the lower courts.

The court examined the case in light of the petitioner’s claim that the damage was caused by the respondent’s fault and that the vehicle was involved in an activity which was not covered by the insurance contract, and thus it should not be liable to pay the damage.

From the litigation in the lower court, this Court noted that the truck, Plate No. 3-29779 A.A has insurance coverage. The respondent alleges that he sustained damage while he was travelling in the vehicle. The petitioner argued that it gave insurance coverage to a vehicle destined for transportation of goods and not transportation of people, and hence contended that it should not be liable for a claim that falls outside its contractual obligation. The respondent did not contest the substantive argument brought by the petitioner.

The Cassation Division of the Federal Supreme Court noted that the insurance policy does not cover the harm caused to individuals who were travelling in the vehicle destined for carrying of goods, and that the respondent did not sustain the injury as a pedestrian. It thus found that the lower court has committed a fundamental error of law in holding the petitioner liable. Accordingly, it has rendered the following decree.

Decree

  1. The decision rendered by the Oromia Regional State, West Hararge Zone High Court, File No.- 08797 on Meskerem 26,2001 E.C (October 6, 2008) and the order given by the Regional Supreme Court in File No.-71528 on Hidar 25, 2001 E.C (December 4, 2008) regarding the petitioner are reversed in accordance with Article 384(1) of the Civil Procedure Code.
  2. The decision of the lower court on the first and second plaintiffs in the initial suit is confirmed.
  3. There is no legal or contractual basis according to which the petitioner will be liable for the damage caused to the respondent.

Signature of five justices

Source: Federal Supreme Court Cassation Division Decisions

Volume 9, pp. 118-119

Abridged translation: Maereg G. Gidey

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