Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Court Rules No Breach and No Bad Faith Where Exclusion Precluded Coverage


In the case of Tarttour v. Safeco Ins. Co., No. 17-1896 (E.D. Pa. Jan. 28, 2020 DuBois, J.), the court granted the carrier’s Motion for Summary Judgment in a breach of contract and bad faith claim after finding that coverage did not apply under the case presented. 

By way of background, Defendant Safeco, provided a homeowner’s insurance policy to its insured. The insured lived in the home covered by the policy with his two (2) children. The insured became ill and went to the hospital where he had to be put on life support. 

When a decision was made by the insured’s wife and one of his children to remove the insured from life support, the insured’s other adult child did not agree with the decision and began to threaten suicide. As part of that process, that adult son set his room on fire in an effort to commit suicide but then changed his mind and survived. 

A fire loss claim was submitted to the carrier for coverage. The carrier denied coverage asserting that the accidental loss provision in the policy did not apply and/or that coverage was excluded under the intentional loss exclusion. 

After reviewing the facts of the case before it and noting that coverage disputes were initially to be decided by the court, the court ruled that the facts presented did not fall under the accidental loss provision of the policy and/or that the facts implicated the intentional loss exclusion. As such, the breach of contract claim was dismissed.

The court also dismissed the companion bad faith claim after finding that the undisputed evidence demonstrated that the carrier has a reasonable basis for denying the Plaintiff’s claim for coverage.

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

I send thanks to Attorney Lee Applebaum of the Philadelphia law firm of Fineman, Krekstein & Harris, as well as the writer of the excellent Pennsylvania and New Jersey Insurance Bad Faith Case Law blog, for bringing this decision to my attention.

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