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HARTFORD FIRE INS. CO. v. FOULKE

October 6, 1955

HARTFORD FIRE INSURANCE COMPANY, a corporation,
v.
Hazel M. FOULKE, individually and doing business as Hardinger Transfer Company



The opinion of the court was delivered by: GOURLEY

This proceeding relates to an interpretation of a motor vehicle cargo liability insurance policy.

The section of the policy which gives rise to the litigation provides, inter alia, that the insurer agrees to indemnify the assured against loss or damage to goods and merchandise while being transported, provided, however, that the insurer shall not be liable for loss or damage to the cargo caused directly or indirectly by the load or any portion thereof coming into contact with any other object unless the carrying vehicle also collides with such object.

 For reason of brevity, the following abbreviations will be employed:

 'Hartford' for Hartford Fire Insurance Company;

 'Hardinger' for Hardinger Transfer Company, and

 'Pelham' for Pelham Electric Manufacturing Corporation.

 The facts are not disputed and the matter is adjudicated by the court on the basis of stipulated facts.

 It appears that Hardinger was employed by Pelham to haul by tractor trailer a quantity of switchboards. The merchandise was placed in a trailer and covered with a tarpaulin, which was manufactured and used solely for said trailer. The tarpaulin which covered the merchandise came in contact with a viaduct during the transportation of the merchandise by the tractor trailer which tore the tarpaulin and damaged the cargo. Hartford refused to pay. Suit was instituted in the state court by Pelham against Hartford. Judgment was secured, and pursuant to requirements of the Public Utility Commission of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Hartford paid Hardinger the amount of the judgment without prejudice. Suit was then instituted by Hartford against Hardinger on the legal thesis that although the tarpaulin struck the viaduct and damaged the cargo, the tarpaulin was not a part of the tractor trailer vehicle.

 In disposing of the question, it is important to note that the insurance rates charged by Hartford to Hardinger were based on the amount of business which was secured in the use of the vehicle involved, which was transporting the merchandise. Under all the circumstances, I must reach the conclusion that the tarpaulin was part of the vehicle and the vehicle cargo liability insurance policy extended protection to Hardinger.

 When a party chooses language, which he puts into a form contract, and there is doubt as to its effect, general rule is that it is interpreted against him, and such rule applies to deeds, insurance policies and other documents. Liberty Mutual Insurance Co. v. Hercules Powder Co., 3 Cir., 224 F.2d 293; Beryllium Corp. v. American Mutual Liability Insurance Co., 3 Cir., 223 F.2d 71.

 Since coverage exists under the provisions of the policy, judgment shall be entered in favor of Hardinger and against Hartford together with costs.

 The Court enters the following Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law:

 Findings of Fact

 1. Plaintiff is a corporation incorporated under the Laws of the State of Connecticut, and defendant is a citizen of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The matter in controversy exceeds, ...


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