Court upholds jury verdict granting PIP benefits to another young man with confused domicile
Lori Calderon, the guardian of Arthur Krumm, sued Auto-Owners Insurance Company for PIP benefits after Krumm was rendered a quadriplegiac in a car accident. Auto-Owners initially paid PIP benefits, but as they piled up, the claims adjuster apparently determined there was enough confusion over Krumm's residency or "domicile" to fight the issue. As with so many young men in our current culture, Arthur had "failed to launch," resulting in a great measure of confusion over whether he was a relative "domiciled" with his grandmother-adoptive parent.
Arthur had trouble with the law, an on-again, off-again marriage to a woman whom his relatives did not know he had married, a checkered work history, and something like 30 addresses associated with his name on the internet. Auto-Owners believed that the confusion was sufficient to deny that he was domiciled with his adoptive mother, even though the adjuster admitted that he met six of the nine factors Auto-Owners looks to in ambiguous domicile situations.
The Court took testimony from more than ten witnesses, including evidence about jobs he worked in North Carolina and Arkansas, arrests, lay descriptions of his "mental state and plans," and related public documents. It also admitted surveillance/investigation report evidence and evidence about the bedroom maintained in his mother's home. Ultimately, after summary disposition was prematurely granted for Auto-Owners, followed by a bifurcated trial, the jury held that Arthur's domicile was with his mother.
Auto-Owners appealed. It argued all manner of objections to the evidence admitted. The higher court rejected the evidentiary arguments, noted that the minor errors that occurred in the trial did not affect Auto-Owners' substantive rights, and upheld the jury verdict.