Appeal, No. 148, March T., 1951, from order of Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Oct. T., 1950, No. 2245, in case of John A. Heidisch et ux. v. Globe and Republic Insurance Company of America. Judgment reversed; reargument refused December 12, 1951.
Elliott W. Finke. with him David Roth, and Kaplan, Finkel & Roth, for appellants.
Charles C. Arensberg, with him Patterson, Crawford, Arensberg & Dunn, for appellee.
Before Drew, C.j., Stern, Stearne, Jones, Bell, Ladner and Chidsey, JJ.
OPINION BY MR. CHIEF JUSTICE DREW
Does the owner of property which has been condemned by eminent domain but title to which has not as yet passed to the County have an insurable interest in the property entitling him to compensation under a contract of insurance upon the loss of the building by fire? That is the question raised by this appeal.
John A. Heidisch and Eva I., his wife, plaintiffs, were the owners of a frame house in the Borough of Glassport, Allegheny County. On August 21, 1946, the Public Utilities Commission of Pennsylvania ordered
the County of Allegheny to assumer the cost of taking certain properties, including that of plaintiffs, necessary for the construction of a bridge. Pursuant to that order Viewers were appointed and on August 19, 1949, an award was made by the Viewers. Following a timely appeal from that award a consent verdict was entered January 11, 1950, which verdict was paid in full ten days later. In the meantime, on August 28, 1949, Globe and Republic Insurance Company of America, defendant, issued its policy of insurance to plaintiffs in the sum of $6000. Thereafter, on September 29, 1949, the building was totally destroyed by fire. Plaintiffs filed a proof of loss which defendant refused to honor and this suit followed.
All of the above facts were set forth in the complaint and answer. Defendant then moved for judgment on the pleadings which motion was granted by the court below and judgment was entered for defendant. In so doing the lower court committed error.
Under the Act of May 2, 1929, P.L. 1278, § 537, title to the property remained in plaintiffs until the County paid the amount of the consent verdict on January 21, 1950. Defendant argues that this is a mere paper title to secure the payment of the award and is not such a title as constitutes an insurable interest.It is further argued that plaintiffs have suffered no economic loss and cannot recover for that reason. These arguments must be rejected.
It is unquestionably true that a person who has no interest in a property may not recover from an insurance company for damage done by fire to the property: Moving Picture Co. v. Scottish U. & N. Ins. Co., 244 Pa. 358, 90 A. 642; F. M. Ins. Co. v. Turnpike Co., 122 Pa. 37, 15 A. 563; Sweeny v. Franklin Fire Insurance Company, 20 Pa. ...