Pennsylvania Supreme Court Holds First Manifestation Coverage Trigger Applies to Property Damage Case

by Traub Lieberman Straus & Shrewsberry LLP
Contact

In Penn Nat’l Mut’l Ins. Co. v. St. John, 2014 Pa LEXIS 3313 (Pa Dec. 15, 2014), the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania held that coverage was triggered under a commercial general liability (“CGL”) policy “when property damage became reasonably apparent,” declining to apply a continuous or multiple trigger theory of coverage. This holding arose out of a construction project that involved the expansion of a dairy farm. The project, which included extensive plumbing work, was completed in 2003. In April 2004 health problems within the dairy herd appeared and progressed throughout the years. It was not until March 2006, however, that the dairy farm began suspecting that the source of the problem was related to water quality. Ensuing investigation confirmed that defects in the plumbing work resulted in contamination of the herd’s drinking water.

The underlying case was tried against the plumbing contractor, LPH Plumbing and Haeting (“LPH”) and resulted in an award of $3.5 million. Penn National (“Penn”) issued four CGL policies to LPH from 2003 to 2005. Following the trial, LPH and Penn entered into a memorandum of understanding pursuant to which Penn agreed to pay the dairy farm $1.2 million dollars under one of the policies in exchange for a waiver of all claims against LPH. Plaintiff retained the right to seek the remainder of the $3.5M directly from Penn.

In the coverage action that ensued, Plaintiff dairy farm argued that coverage under all Penn policies was triggered under the continuous trigger theory. In this regard, plaintiff reasoned that the exposure to the contaminated water took place over a period of years during which the herd suffered from persistent health problems. Penn asserted that only the 2003-2004 policy in effect when the injuries first manifested was triggered.

Relying on D’Auria v. Zurich Ins. Co., 507 A.2d 807 (Pa. Super. Ct. 1986), the Court held that coverage was triggered under the first manifestation theory when either bodily jury or property damage became reasonably apparent. The Court rejected the dairy farm’s argument that coverage should be analyzed under the continuous trigger theory and declined to follow its prior reasoning in J.H. France Refractories Co. v. Allstate Ins. Co., 626 A.2d 502 (Pa. 1993), where the continues trigger theory was applied in the context of asbestos bodily injury claims . In this regard the Court distinguished the policy language in J.H. France and noted that the disease of asbestosis occurred from the first moment of exposure until manifestation. Thus, the Supreme Court affirmed the trial court’s finding that the first manifestation of property damage occurred in April 2004 when the production of milk decreased significantly, thereby triggering coverage only under the policy in effect between July 2003 and July 2004.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Traub Lieberman Straus & Shrewsberry LLP | Attorney Advertising

Written by:

Traub Lieberman Straus & Shrewsberry LLP
Contact
more
less

Traub Lieberman Straus & Shrewsberry LLP on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
Sign up using*

Already signed up? Log in here

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Custom Email Digest
Privacy Policy (Updated: October 8, 2015):
hide

JD Supra provides users with access to its legal industry publishing services (the "Service") through its website (the "Website") as well as through other sources. Our policies with regard to data collection and use of personal information of users of the Service, regardless of the manner in which users access the Service, and visitors to the Website are set forth in this statement ("Policy"). By using the Service, you signify your acceptance of this Policy.

Information Collection and Use by JD Supra

JD Supra collects users' names, companies, titles, e-mail address and industry. JD Supra also tracks the pages that users visit, logs IP addresses and aggregates non-personally identifiable user data and browser type. This data is gathered using cookies and other technologies.

The information and data collected is used to authenticate users and to send notifications relating to the Service, including email alerts to which users have subscribed; to manage the Service and Website, to improve the Service and to customize the user's experience. This information is also provided to the authors of the content to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

JD Supra does not sell, rent or otherwise provide your details to third parties, other than to the authors of the content on JD Supra.

If you prefer not to enable cookies, you may change your browser settings to disable cookies; however, please note that rejecting cookies while visiting the Website may result in certain parts of the Website not operating correctly or as efficiently as if cookies were allowed.

Email Choice/Opt-out

Users who opt in to receive emails may choose to no longer receive e-mail updates and newsletters by selecting the "opt-out of future email" option in the email they receive from JD Supra or in their JD Supra account management screen.

Security

JD Supra takes reasonable precautions to insure that user information is kept private. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. However, please note that no method of transmitting or storing data is completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of user information. Unauthorized entry or use, hardware or software failure, and other factors may compromise the security of user information at any time.

If you have reason to believe that your interaction with us is no longer secure, you must immediately notify us of the problem by contacting us at info@jdsupra.com. In the unlikely event that we believe that the security of your user information in our possession or control may have been compromised, we may seek to notify you of that development and, if so, will endeavor to do so as promptly as practicable under the circumstances.

Sharing and Disclosure of Information JD Supra Collects

Except as otherwise described in this privacy statement, JD Supra will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe that disclosure is necessary to: (1) comply with applicable laws; (2) respond to governmental inquiries or requests; (3) comply with valid legal process; (4) protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of JD Supra, users of the Service, Website visitors or the public; (5) permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain; and (6) enforce our Terms & Conditions of Use.

In the event there is a change in the corporate structure of JD Supra such as, but not limited to, merger, consolidation, sale, liquidation or transfer of substantial assets, JD Supra may, in its sole discretion, transfer, sell or assign information collected on and through the Service to one or more affiliated or unaffiliated third parties.

Links to Other Websites

This Website and the Service may contain links to other websites. The operator of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using the Service through the Website and link to another site, you will leave the Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We shall have no responsibility or liability for your visitation to, and the data collection and use practices of, such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of this Website and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our privacy policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use the Service or Website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes. If you do not agree with the terms of this Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or part, please do not continue using the Service or the Website.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, your dealings with this Web site, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at: info@jdsupra.com.

- hide
*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.