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Cloudy With A Chance Of No Coverage

March 22, 2019

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<p style="text-align: justify;">The District Court of New Jersey, applying admiralty jurisdiction, recently ruled on coverage under an all-risk policy insuring a 65-foot yacht in <em><a href="">Chartis Prop. Cas. Co v. Inganamort</a>. </em>The Defendant Insured had obtained an all-risk policy from Plaintiff Chartis covering their 1996 Sportfish, dubbed <em>Three Times A Lady</em>, harbored in Florida.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">The initial claim to Chartis stated that <em>Lady</em> had suffered a partial sinking on September 15, 2011 due to “heavy rainstorms.”  Chartis initiated the declaratory judgment action soon after and moved for summary judgment arguing its policy provided no coverage for the sinking loss of the yacht.  The parties did not dispute that applicable Fortuity Rule holds that all-risk policies in marine insurance contracts cover any loss caused by a fortuitous event.  Thus, the question before the Court was: had Defendant Insured met its burden of establishing a “fortuitous” loss of <em>Three Times A Lady?</em></p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">While the Defendant Insured put forth a Marine Surveyor as an expert who opined that during September 2011 there were “two or possibly three coastal events of heavy rains, lightning, and heavy thunderstorms” in South Florida, the Court was swayed by Plaintiff Chartis’ expert, a certified meteorologist, whose report set forth that the heaviest rainfall in September 2011 yielded only 1.21 inches of rain – an amount not sufficiently fortuitous to have caused a partial sinking of a 65-foot boat.  The Court therefore granted Chartis’ summary judgment motion in favor of a finding of no coverage for the loss.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Say what you will about your local meteorologist’s accuracy in forecasting the weather, but this case illustrates that meteorologists can be precise and reliable when opining on yesterday’s weather, as a matter of law, for coverage purposes.</p>
Thanks to Vivian Turetsky for her contribution to this post. Please email Colleen Hayes with any questions at <a href=""></a>


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