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

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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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  1. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  2. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

  3. I will agree with that as soon as law schools stop lying to prospective students about salaries and employment opportunities in the legal profession. There is no defense to the fraudulent numbers first year salaries they post to mislead people into going to law school.

  4. The sad thing is that no fish were thrown overboard The "greenhorn" who had never fished before those 5 days was interrogated for over 4 hours by 5 officers until his statement was illicited, "I don't want to go to prison....." The truth is that these fish were measured frozen off shore and thawed on shore. The FWC (state) officer did not know fish shrink, so the only reason that these fish could be bigger was a swap. There is no difference between a 19 1/2 fish or 19 3/4 fish, short fish is short fish, the ticket was written. In addition the FWC officer testified at trial, he does not measure fish in accordance with federal law. There was a document prepared by the FWC expert that said yes, fish shrink and if these had been measured correctly they averaged over 20 inches (offshore frozen). This was a smoke and mirror prosecution.

  5. I love this, Dave! Many congrats to you! We've come a long way from studying for the bar together! :)

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