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Court of Appeals finds insurer’s intent is not clear in policy language

August 28, 2012

Finding language in an insurance policy to be ambiguous, the Court of Appeals reversed and remanded a trial court’s entry of summary judgment for an insurance company.

FLM LLC leased property in Indianapolis to International Recycling Inc. Daimler Chrysler Corp. entered into purchase order transactions with IRI for the removal and reuse or disposal of foundry sand generated from Chrysler’s Indianapolis foundry. IRI started depositing the sand onto the FLM property in May 1999.

In 2002, Chrysler stopped paying and IRI could no longer fund the removal of the sand from FLM’s property. IRI stopped paying rent to FLM in 2003 and abandoned more than 100,000 tons of sand on the property.

FLM filed a complaint against IRI’s insurer Cincinnati Insurance Co. in January 2005, seeking declaration that IRI was covered under the commercial general liability policy and the umbrella policy for the environmental liabilities asserted by the state and the city.

In March 2005, the insurance company filed its answer and counterclaim, seeking a declaration that there was no coverage under the policies for the claims.

The trial court granted partial summary judgment in November 2008 in favor of Cincinnati and denied FLM’s and Chrysler’s cross-motions for summary judgment.

On appeal, FLM and Chrysler raised the issue of whether IRI’s abandonment of sand constitutes a “wrongful entry” or “invasion of the right of private occupancy” covered by the “personal injury” provisions of the insurance policies.

The COA focused on determining whether any ambiguity existed in the language of the policies. It cited Travelers Indem. Co. v. Summit Corp. of Am. 715 N.E.2d 926 (Ind. Ct. App. 1999), finding the reasoning underlying the Summit decision applies here.

Writing for the majority, Judge James Kirsch concluded, “Cincinnati’s personal injury provision contained language identical to the language in the personal injury provision at issue in Summit, and just as the court in that case determined such language to be ambiguous, we likewise conclude that the language used in Cincinnati’s policies is ambiguous. Because the Policies are ambiguous, we must construe the language against the insurer and in favor of coverage.”
 

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