Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Coverage/Defense for Injuries Resulting from Bar Fight Denied Under Liability Policy

In a recent Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas decision in the case of Penn-Patriot Ins. Co. v. Williams, PICS Case No. 16-0659 (C.P. Phila. Co. May 9, 2016 Djerassi, J.), the court ruled in a declaratory judgment action on an issue of coverage brought by a liability insurance company seeking a judicial declaration that the insurance company need not provide coverage to its insured Defendants in a matter arising out of a fight that occurred at the insured's cafĂ©.  

According to the Opinion, the carrier denied coverage based upon the terms of its policy and an endorsement entitled “Assault or Battery General Liability Exclusion.”  

The trial court also noted that the policy provided coverage for bodily injury or property damages caused by an “occurrence” which was defined as an accident.   

Also, an endorsement in the policies expressly stated that the policy “does not apply to liability for damages because of ‘bodily injury,’ ‘property damage,’…medical expense arising out of an ‘assault,’ ‘battery,’ or ‘physical altercation’” in, near, or away from the premises, whether or not caused by or involving the insured, the insured’s employees, patrons, or other persons.  

The policy also excluded coverage for any act or omission related to the prevention of such incidents, failure to warn, and/or negligent hiring, training, and/or supervision. 

The court ruled that the factual allegations pertaining to the fight that occurred on the premises did not trigger coverage under the policy at issue.   The court found that the injuries to the injured party arose from the blows by hands, fists, and a bottle, not from any acts of negligence.   

The court also emphasized that the allegations of the Defendant’s failure to warn, employed competent staff, train employees, or supervise employees were expressly excluded from coverage by the language of the policy.  

Accordingly, the court entered a declaratory judgment finding that no coverage or defense need be provided to the Defendants in this matter.  

Anyone wishing to review a copy of this case may contact me at dancummins@comcast.net.

I send thanks to Attorney Jay Fulmer of Philadelphia for securing a copy of this decision for dissemination.   

Source:  “Digest of Recent Opinions.”  Pennsylvania Law Weekly (May 31, 2016). 

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