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CRAIN BROS. v. HARTFORD FIRE INS. CO.

March 28, 1957

CRAIN BROS., Inc., a corporation, Libellant,
v.
HARTFORD FIRE INSURANCE COMPANY, a corporation, Respondent



The opinion of the court was delivered by: WILLSON

This suit is an aftermath of the litigation in this court at Nos. 217 and 218 in Admiralty, affirmed by the Court of Appeals, Pittsburgh Consol. Coal Co. v. Harrison Const. Co., 3 Cir., 223 F.2d 260. The issue in this case is whether libellant has coverage under a policy of insurance issued by respondent. There is no factual dispute except for the issue as to whether libellant gave respondent timely notice as is required under the insurance policy. All other facts have been stipulated. On the issue of timely notice, in paragraph 10, the court makes its own findings:

Findings of Fact.

 1. Crain Bros., Inc., is a corporation organized and existing under the laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, maintaining a principal place of business at 1836 Franklin Street in the City of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

 2. Hartford Fire Insurance Company is a corporation organized and existing under and by virtue of the laws of the State of Connecticut, and duly authorized to transact business in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and maintaining a place of business in the City of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

 3. On or about January 16, 1950, Hartford Fire Insurance Company, in consideration of a premium paid to it, issued and delivered to Crain Bros., Inc., its policy of insurance No. RPI 8301, a copy of which is attached to the stipulation of facts, covering the period from noon, January 16, 1950, until noon, January 16, 1951.

 4. The endorsement schedule to policy No. RPI 8301 provided for coverage with respect to the M. V. Clipper, a vessel belonging to Crain Bros., Inc., of $ 50,000, less $ 100 deductible from any one accident or occurrence.

 5. On November 25, 1950, while said insurance policy was in full force and effect, the American Barge Line Company entered into a contract of towage with Crain Bros., Inc., whereby Crain Bros., Inc. was to tow two loaded barges from the Duquesne Wharf, in Pittsburgh, up the Allegheny River, to the Fifty-first Street Landing of the Harrison Construction Company.

 6. Barges H-768 and PC-408 were towed by the M. V. Clipper to the landing on November 25, 1950, and moored to the outside of an empty barge which was itself moored to the landing and had its inside head aground on shore.

 7. Due to an extremely heavy snowfall, the Allegheny River rose and, during the morning of November 27, 1950, some thirty-four to thirty-six hours after the barges were moored, the empty barge became afloat, snapping the cables and setting all three barges adrift down the river.

 8. The two loaded barges collided with the pier of the Ninth Street bridge and sank, resulting in a complete loss of the barges and their cargo of pig iron; the empty barge was recovered.

 9. In a suit instituted in the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania brought by the American Barge Line Company and the Pittsburgh Consolidation Coal Company against the Harrison Construction Company and Crain Bros., Inc., in personam, and the M. V. Clipper in rem, at Nos. 217 and 218 in Admiralty, Joseph P. Willson, D.J., entered judgment against Crain Bros., Inc. and the M. V. Clipper for the negligent mooring of the barges, in an amount totaling $ 53,745.86, all of which, plus record costs, were paid in full by Crain Bros., Inc.

 10. The accident occurred on November 27, 1950, and libellant knew of the loss of the barges shortly thereafter. However, libellant did not notify respondent of the destruction of the barges or of any possible claim arising under the policy until within thirty days of January 24, 1952, which was the date of service of the libel upon libellant by American Barge Line Company and the Pittsburgh Consolidation Coal Company, both libellants in the Admiralty actions Nos. 217 and 218.

 11. Hartford Fire Insurance Company defended in the action against Crain Bros., Inc., with a reservation of rights agreement entered into with the insured.

 12. It is further stipulated and agreed that the Findings of Fact and Conclusions as found by the District Court of the United States for the Western District of Pennsylvania, at Nos. 217 and 218 in Admiralty, and affirmed by the United States ...


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