Thursday, January 14, 2021

Court Addresses Policy Definition of "Bodily Injury" in Context of Opioid Cases

In the case of Giant Eagle, Inc. v. Am. Guarantee & Liab. Ins. Co., No. 2:19-CV-00904-RJC (W.D. Pa. Nov. 9, 2020 Colville, J.), the court ruled that the Defendant insurance company had a duty to defend the Plaintiffs in multiple lawsuits where the Plaintiffs asserted claims of “bodily injury” allegedly caused by the insured’s distribution and sale of prescription opioids. 

The Defendant carrier argued that the Plaintiffs’ Motion should be denied as the Plaintiff failed to meet their burden of establishing that the Complaints in the underlying lawsuits sought damages for “bodily injury” caused by a single “occurrence” that first manifested during the periods of coverage.

In denying the carrier’s Motion, the court pointed to several court decisions which have interpreted similar “bodily injury” insurance policy provisions in conjunction with similar opioid and epidemic lawsuits and found that those underlying lawsuits that were seeking damages due to claims of "bodily injury."  The court found that the carriers in this case failed to sufficiently distinguish those cases.

More specifically, the court found that, although the particular Plaintiffs in these lawsuits did not allege that they personally suffered bodily injury or damages, those Plaintiffs were still seeking damages because of claims arising out of a "bodily injury."   

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

Source: “Digest of Recent Opinions.” Pennsylvania Law Weekly (Nov. 24, 2020).

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