On June 3, Donald and Sonna Hummel executed a written purchase order invoice for the purchase of a 1989 Chevrolet Corsica from Raisor Pontiac in Lafayette, Indiana.
The purchase order indicated that the total retail price of the Corsica would be $7,681.98, that the Hummels would make a cash down payment of $624.50, and that the Purdue Employees Federal Credit Union would be the lienholder for the $7,057.48 balance. The Hummels signed a Retail Installment Contract and Security Agreement with Raisor Pontiac, presented a check for $350.00, and took delivery of the Corsica.
The next day the Hummels gave Raisor Pontiac a second check for $274.50. On June 5, Donald Hummel was driving the Corsica when it collided with a vehicle driven by Matthew Lyons. At the time of the accident, Raisor Pontiac held the certificate of title to the Corsica and the vehicle bore an interim license plate. Lyons was injured in the accident and Sean O'Donnell, a passenger in the Lyons vehicle, died in the collision.
The day after the accident, the Hummels' $274.50 check to Raisor Pontiac was debited to their account and on June 7, the $350.00 check was debited. Also on June 7, Raisor Pontiac assigned the Installment Contract with the Hummels to the Credit Union, which remitted a check to Raisor Pontiac for $7,057.48, the amount financed. Raisor Pontiac transferred the Certificate of Title to the Hummels on June 11. At the time of the accident, Raisor Pontiac was insured by American Employers Insurance Co. under a policy that covered its ownership, maintenance, or use of covered automobiles. Sean O'Donnell's parents sued Hummel for the wrongful death of their son, alleging that he was negligent in his operation of the automobile at the time of the collision. They also sought a declaratory judgment that the American Employers' policy covered this situation on the grounds that Raisor Pontiac was the owner of the vehicle at the time of the accident. Was Raisor Pontiac the owner or title holder of the Corsica at the time of the accident?