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It’s Not Your Fault (PA)

February 22, 2019

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<p style="text-align: justify;">In <em><a href="http://blog.wcmlaw.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/Precision-Underground-Pipe-Servs.-v.-Penn-Nat’l-Mut.-Cas..pdf">Precision Underground Pipe Servs. v. Penn Nat’l Mut. Cas.</a></em>, Verizon entered into a contract with Parkside to install an underground conduit for Verizon’s fiber optic cable in Villanova, Pa. Under this agreement, Parkside was required to name Verizon as an additional insured and to indemnify Verizon. Parkside subsequently contracted with Precision to provide additional labor. Under this agreement, Precision was required indemnify Parkside and Verizon and name them as additional insureds on their Penn National policy.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">The Penn National policy included an “Automatic Additional Insureds-Owners, Contractors, and Subcontractors" endorsement, which stated the following would constitute an additional insured under the policy: “[a]ny person(s) or organization (s) . . . with whom you are required in a written contract or agreement to name as an additional insured, . . . caused, in whole or in part, by: (1) your acts or omissions; or (2) the acts or omissions of those acting on your behalf in the performance of your ongoing operations”.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">An employee of Precision suffered injury while working at the work-site and filed a complaint against Verizon and Parkside. Penn National refused to provide a defense and indemnity to Verizon and Parkside. In determining whether Verizon and Parkside were entitled to defense and indemnity, the court looked to the underlying complaint. The court reasoned the complaint lacked any indication that Precision committed any act or omission that lead to the plaintiff’s injury. Specifically, the plaintiff’s complaint alleged wrongdoing on the part of Verizon and Parkside but did attribute fault Precision.  Therefore, the court concluded no additional insured coverage was provided under the policy because there were no allegations that the plaintiff’s injuries were caused by Precision.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Thus, this opinion emphasizes the importance of scrutinizing the underlying complaint’s language when dealing with duty-to-defend matters.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Thanks to Rachel Thompson for her contribution to this post.  Please email <a href="chayes@wcmlaw.com">Colleen Hayes</a> with any questions.</p>

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