Monday, December 23, 2019

Court Rules That Artful Pleading Cannot Defeat Exclusions Applicable Under Homeowner's Policy


In the case of Carrasquillo v. Kelly and Nationwide Mut. Fire Ins. Co., No. 2720 EDA 2018 (Pa. Super. Nov. 12, 2019 Panella, P.J., Kunselman, J., and Stevens, J.E.) (Op. by Kunselman, J.)(Non-precedential decision), the court addressed issues pertaining to a declaratory judgment action under a homeowner’s policy.

According to the Opinion, the Nationwide insured fatally shot and killed the Plaintiff’s decedent in the insured’s home. The insured later pled guilty to a charge of murder in the third degree. Thereafter, the decedent’s family pursued a wrongful death and survival action.

In response, Nationwide, the carrier who provided homeowner’s coverage on the home where the incident occurred, denied coverage under the intentional acts exclusion and the criminal acts exclusion. A declaratory judgment action was filed to address these issues.

In this declaratory judgment action, the Plaintiff attempted to argue that it had pled negligence allegations in the underlying Complaint such that the exclusions were not applicable. The court disagreed and noted that artful pleading did not serve to avoid the exclusions in this matter.

Anyone wishing to review a copy of this decision may click this LINK.

I send thanks to Attorney Benjamin P. Novak of the Lancaster, PA law firm of Fowler, Hirtzel, McNulty & Spaulding for bringing this case to my attention.

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