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Court clarifies ‘known claim’ exclusion applies in insurance coverage dispute

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The Indiana Court of Appeals granted rehearing to a case involving a dispute over coverage for environmental contamination and found that the “known claim” exclusion applies, not the known loss doctrine.

Patricia Kopetsky and Indiana Insurance Co. sought clarification from the appeals court regarding the possible finding that George Kopetsky knew of contamination in a housing development prior to obtaining CGL coverage from Indiana Insurance.

In June, the judges ordered a trial on the issue of whether the known loss doctrine would bar coverage by Indiana Insurance. George Kopetsky sold land to KB Home Indiana for a housing development. It’s alleged that he knew as early as May 2002 that some of the lots were contaminated. He obtained coverage from Indiana Insurance in April 2002 that was in effect for a four-year period.

The judges addressed the legal effect of Indiana Insurance’s knowledge of the contamination. Patricia Kopetsky argued that under the common law known loss doctrine, even if a jury found George Kopetsky knew of the contamination before taking out the policy, coverage would only be barred during the first of the four coverage years. The insurer, citing the known claim exclusionary language from the policies, argued that there is no coverage for the final three years, regardless of what the jury finds regarding George Kopetsky’s knowledge. It also argued that a finding he knew of the loss before obtaining coverage would bar coverage in the first year as well.

“We agree with Indiana Insurance because we conclude that, consistent with the Indiana Supreme Court’s approach in Sheehan Construction Co., Inc. v. Continental Casualty Co., 935 N.E.2d 160 (2010), the Policies’ ‘known claim’ exclusionary language controls,” Judge Cale Bradford wrote in Indiana Insurance Company v. Patricia Kopetsky, and KB Home Indiana Inc., 49A02-1304-PL-340.

That case requires the court to start with the policy language and determine if the loss would be covered under the general coverage clause and if any exclusions apply that would preclude coverage, without regard to whether the loss constituted an “economic loss.”

George Kopetsky knew of the contamination no later than May 2002, so coverage is barred for the second through fourth years, regardless of the jury’s finding of any prior knowledge. Any finding of knowledge of contamination prior to the first year of coverage only applies to the first year, Bradford wrote.

The original decision is affirmed in all other respects.  
 

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  1. For many years this young man was "family" being my cousin's son. Then he decided to ignore my existence and that of my daughter who was very hurt by his actions after growing up admiring, Jason. Glad he is doing well, as for his opinion, if you care so much you wouldn't ignore the feelings of those who cared so much about you for years, Jason.

  2. Good riddance to this dangerous activist judge

  3. What is the one thing the Hoosier legal status quo hates more than a whistleblower? A lawyer whistleblower taking on the system man to man. That must never be rewarded, must always, always, always be punished, lest the whole rotten tree be felled.

  4. I want to post this to keep this tread alive and hope more of David's former clients might come forward. In my case, this coward of a man represented me from June 2014 for a couple of months before I fired him. I knew something was wrong when he blatantly lied about what he had advised me in my contentious and unfortunate divorce trial. His impact on the proceedings cast a very long shadow and continues to impact me after a lengthy 19 month divorce. I would join a class action suit.

  5. The dispute in LB Indiana regarding lake front property rights is typical of most beach communities along our Great Lakes. Simply put, communication to non owners when visiting the lakefront would be beneficial. The Great Lakes are designated navigational waters (including shorelines). The high-water mark signifies the area one is able to navigate. This means you can walk, run, skip, etc. along the shores. You can't however loiter, camp, sunbath in front of someones property. Informational signs may be helpful to owners and visitors. Our Great Lakes are a treasure that should be enjoyed by all. PS We should all be concerned that the Long Beach, Indiana community is on septic systems.

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