Tuesday, December 23, 2014

First Manifiestation Rule of Insurance Coverage vs. Multiple Trigger Theory of Liability Insurance Addressed by Pennsylvania Supreme Court

In its recent December 15, 2014 Opinion in the case of Penn Nat'l. Mut. Cas. v. St. John, 86 MAP 2012 (Pa. Dec. 15, 2014)(Op. by Baer, J.)(Dissenting Op. by Saylor, J.), the Pennsylvania Supreme Court reviewed the applicability of the multiple trigger theory of liability insurance previously it adopted in the context of asbestos litigation would apply in this case of an alleged ongoing and progressive property damage that was manifested in a later injury. 

The underlying facts involved the insured's expansion of their dairy farm and faulty work performed by a plumbing company in that expansion that eventually led to contaminated water being provide to the farm's herd of milking cows.

Here, there was a dispute between parties over which of several insurance policies were implicated for coverage under the facts presented.  The insured was arguing that coverage should be considered to be triggered under all policies in existence from the time of the exposure to the harmful condition until the manifestation of the injury.

After review, the Supreme Court affirmed all aspects of the lower court’s decision finding that coverage was triggered under only that policy that was in effect when property damage became "reasonably apparent."  In so ruling, the Court applied its understanding of the first manifestation rule in terms of the triggering of liability coverage.

Notably, the Court declined to apply the multiple trigger theory of liability insurance coverage to this set of circumstances.

Anyone wishing to review this Opinion, may click this LINK
The Dissenting Opinion by Justice Saylor, who believed that the appeal should have been dismissed as improvidently granted and also voiced reservations regarding the Majority's analysis, can be viewed HERE.

I send thanks to Attorney Steven DiLiberto of the Wilmington, Delaware office of ACE North American Claims for bringing this case to my attention.
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