ILNews

Endorsement clause makes insurance policy ambiguous

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrint

Describing an insurance company’s policy as “inherently ambiguous,” the Indiana Court of Appeals has reserved the summary judgment granted by the trial court.

The COA agreed with the appellants that the trial court erred in granting summary judgment in favor of Indiana Insurance Co. because the umbrella policy contained contradictions. In Gary Hammerstone, Susan Hammerstone, Palmor Products, Inc., Northhampton Farm Bureau Cooperative Association, and Cannis-Bilco Distributors, Inc., v. Indiana Insurance Co., 06A04-1211-PL-595, the Court of Appeals reversed the trial court’s order and remanded for more proceedings.

Gary Hammerstone severely injured his right hand and arm while trying to unclog the Trac-Vac, a vacuuming device for yard debris like mulched leaves, grass and sticks. In December 2009, he and his wife, Susan, filed a complaint in Pennsylvania against Palmor Products, which designs and manufactures the vacuum, and Northhampton Farm Bureau Cooperative, which sells and services the Trac-Vac. Later Cannis-Bilco Distributors, a distributor of Palmor, was added as a defendant.

Hammerstone alleged Palmor, Northhampton and CBD were, among other things, negligent; failed to property warn of the hazards of the Trac-Vac; and failed to adequately inspect the machine for defects.

Indiana Insurance, the primary insurer of Palmor, filed motions for summary judgment against Palmor, Northhampton and CBD as well as the Hammerstones. The appellants subsequently filed cross-motions for summary judgment against Indiana Insurance.

In appealing the trial court’s order, the appellants argue the lower court erred when it found the insurance company’s umbrella policy unambiguously denied covered. They alleged the policy was ambiguous because the declarations page clearly stated the policy included coverage for products-completed operations hazard but later language maintained the coverage did not apply to injuries and damages included within the operations hazard.

The COA found the umbrella policy contains an endorsement that contradicts its language defining products-completed operations hazard as “bodily injury” and “property damage.”

“Thus the Umbrella Policy states that it both provides $2,000,000 of coverage for products-complete operations and that the insurance does not apply to products-completed operations hazard injuries,” Judge James Krisch wrote for the court. “As a result, the Umbrella Policy is inherently ambiguous.”

 



 

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Indiana State Bar Association

Indianapolis Bar Association

Evansville Bar Association

Allen County Bar Association

Indiana Lawyer on Facebook

facebook
ADVERTISEMENT
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

ADVERTISEMENT