Federal Court Agrees With Insurer’s Definition of ‘Control’ in Decision Limiting Potential Indemnity Under Aviation Policy


In the multidistrict litigation In re: Helicopter Crash Near Weaverville, California 8/5/08, No. 3:09-cv-00705, 2010 WL 4812810 (D. Or. Nov. 19, 2010), the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon held that an “aviation products-completed operations” endorsement, which provided $25 million in coverage per occurrence, did not apply to the accident at issue because the aircraft was under the “control” of the insured at the time of the crash.

On August 5, 2008, a helicopter owned by the insured, Carson Helicopter Inc., crashed during a firefighting mission while being used under contract to the U.S. Forest Service (USFS). Carson sought coverage from its insurer, Houston Casualty Company (HCC), for multiple bodily injury and wrongful death cases filed against it. According to Carson, the $25 million limit provided in the “aviation products-completed operations” endorsement applied to the accident. HCC challenged this assertion, arguing that another endorsement to the policy, which provided $200,000 of bodily injury coverage per passenger, applied to the accident.

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