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KATTELMAN v. NATIONAL UNION FIRE INSURANCE COMPANY. (07/01/64)

July 1, 1964

KATTELMAN, APPELLANT,
v.
NATIONAL UNION FIRE INSURANCE COMPANY.



Appeal, No. 205, Jan. T., 1964, from judgment of Court of Common Pleas No. 1 of Philadelphia County, June T., 1955, No. 7719, in case of Leon Kattelman and Phyllis Kattelman, his wife, v. National Union Fire Insurance Company of Pittsburgh. Judgment affirmed.

COUNSEL

Louis Kattelman, with him Martin Greitzer, for appellants.

Norman Paul Harvey, with him John J. McDevitt, 3rd, for appellee.

Before Bell, C.j., Jones, Cohen, Eagen, O'brien and Roberts, JJ.

Author: Eagen

[ 415 Pa. Page 62]

OPINION BY MR. JUSTICE EAGEN

The plaintiffs, Leon Kattelman and Phyllis, his wife, sued the defendant, the National Union Fire Insurance

[ 415 Pa. Page 63]

Company, in assumpsit, to recover for damage to their dwelling, which was insured against collapse by the extended coverage endorsement in a fire insurance policy issued by the defendant. The case was tried before a judge without a jury, resulting in a finding for the plaintiffs. Subsequently, exceptions filed by the defendant were sustained and judgment entered for the defendant. The plaintiffs appealed.

The facts are not in dispute:

The dwelling house of the plaintiffs is located on Parma Road, Philadelphia. All of the buildings in the immediate area are constructed upon a filled bed and every two houses are built on a concrete mat resting on the fill. Plaintiffs' house was so situated that it rested partly on one mat and partly on another.

On the date involved, one of the mats underneath plaintiffs' dwelling suddenly dropped from its position, while the other remained firm. This caused a twisting action in the foundation and substantial damage to the building. A large number of cracks of sizeable proportions appeared in the inside walls; doors were jammed; plaster fell from the ceilings; a break occurred in one of the outside walls and the building itself broke away from the party wall of the adjoining building. However, the building remained standing and intact; none of the floors, walls or roof fell in.

The legal question for determination is the meaning of the word "collapse" as used in the pertinent provision of the insurance contract, and whether or not the damage described is included within the meaning of the term. In the policy "collapse" is defined thusly: "Loss by collapse shall mean only physical injury to or destruction of the described property resulting from the collapse of floor(s), wall(s), or roof(s) of ...


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