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Insurer Might Be Liable for 12-Year-Old’s Joyride

(CN) - The Michigan Court of Appeals reversed summary judgment for an insurance company that was sued under a family joyride exception after a 12-year-old wrecked his mother's car.

Kyle Roberts, 12, got drunk and crashed a Ford Explorer into a tree. The vehicle belonged to Steven Vandenberg, the housemate of Kyle and his mother, Lilian Irwin.

Vandenberg had allowed Irwin to use the Explorer because Irwin's Jeep was not working, but he did not tell his insurance company that Irwin was using the vehicle.

Irwin lied to the insurance company that Vandenberg has used the vehicle before her son crashed it. She also lied that she had reimbursed Vandenberg $500 for the deductible.

Kyle and his mother sued Titan for recovery of damages, but the trial court granted Titan summary judgment.

However, the judges ruled that Michigan law creates an exception in the case of a family member, and those circumstances apply here.

"Irwin's use of the car comports with the concepts of ownership," the judges ruled. "Because Roberts was a family member joyriding rather than attempting to steal the car ... (he is) not excluded from coverage."

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