Friday, November 2, 2007

October 25, 2007


One thing that some insurance companies are very good at is getting in fights with people they insure. And they’re good at it in the sense that, regardless what you think of them, they tend to win. Not so today, in Utica Mut. Ins. co. v. Fontneau, Mass. App. Ct. No. 06-P-930.

A property owner guy owned two parcels of land right next to each other. He had liability insurance for one but not for the other. His policy for the insured parcel covered him for losses that happened on that parcel and on parcels used in connection with it. The property owner stored antique cars and other personal items on the adjacent parcel. A police officer came by to investigate vandalism complaints at the adjacent parcel and hurt himself on a path connecting the two parcels. The insurance company, Utica, refused to cover the loss, sued the property owner, and lost at trial and in this appeal.

The crux of the Court’s rationale was that the insurance company didn’t introduce evidence it was surprised it had to cover the loss on the path. What’s interesting here is that in a different case three years ago, the Appeals Court held that a regularly used private beach was not “used in connection” with the owner’s main parcel 500 feet away. Which means that Utica is probably shaking its head in disbelief at this point.

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