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Court upholds decision that Home-Owners is responsible for PIP benefits in dispute over domicile

National General Insurance Company and Home-Owners Insurance Company went to court to determine who must pay PIP benefits to the family of Lisa Lothamer.  Lothamer was injured in a May, 2007, Florida car accident. Previously, Lothamer had lived with Robert Lamphere, however, at the time of the collision she was living in her mother, Brenda Lowe's. Florida mobile home.  Lothamer had only intended to visit her mother, but found a job, opened a bank account and announced an intention to find a new place to live. Home-Owners insured Lowe.  National General insured the vehicle in which Lothamer was a passenger.  National General would owe PIP benefits unless Lothamer was a resident of Lowe's home at the time of the collision.  The trial court held that she had no other home and therefore was domiciled with the mother--a conclusion which Home-Owners [a division of Auto-Owners] refused to accept.  On appeal, the Court of Appeals upheld the lower court by a unanimous decision.  "A fundamental tenet of domicile is that an individual can only have one domicile, but he must have a domicile somewhere...[I]t continued until he acquires another..."  On this basis, Lothamer's "home" was with her mother until she acquired another.

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