Vanderbilt Law Review

First Page



Elizabeth R. Bussey commenced a negligence action in a Florida state trial court against Frances R.B. Shingleton for damages sustained in an automobile mishap. The accident itself was a rather ordinary rear-end collision. Out of the ordinary, however, was the fact that the plaintiff joined as a party defendant Shingleton's liability insurer, Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company. The trial judge, following the insurance policy's non-joinder provisions' and the weight of authority in Florida and elsewhere, granted Nationwide's motion that it be dismissed as a party defendant. Plaintiff appealed this order to the Florida District Court of Appeal on the theory that, as a third-party beneficiary to defendant Shingleton's liability insurance contract with Nationwide, the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure permitted joinder of Nationwide as a real party in interest. Sustaining this contention, the court of appeal reversed the trial court's order of dismissal.' On certiorari to the Supreme Court of Florida, held, affirmed. Prevailing public policy demands that members of the general public be regarded as third-party beneficiaries of automobile liability insurance contracts and that the interest of the insurer in a suit against its insured be recognized as sufficient to permit its joinder as a real party in interest despite contract provisions to the contrary.