Appeal from judgment of Court of Common Pleas of Mercer County, June T., 1965, No. 200, and March T., 1966, No. 935, in case of Employers Liability Assurance Corporation, Ltd. v. Greenville Business Men's Association.
Albert E. Acker, with him Cusick, Madden, Joyce, Acker and McKay, for appellant.
Geo. Hardy Rowley, with him Voorhies, Dilley, Keck & Rowley, for appellee.
Bell, C. J., Musmanno, Jones, Cohen, Eagen, O'Brien and Roberts, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Justice Jones. Dissenting Opinion by Mr. Justice Roberts. Mr. Chief Justice Bell joins in this dissenting opinion.
This is an appeal from the entry by the Court of Common Pleas of Mercer County of a judgment of non-suit in a trespass action.
On December 28, 1962, Greenville Business Men's Association (Association) was the owner of a building known as Building 4 located in the Reynolds Development, Pymatuning Township, Mercer County. Section 4 of that building had been under lease for several years to McGinnis Brothers, Inc., manufacturers of outdoor street Christmas decorations.
On December 28, 1962, under a written lease, the Association leased on a month to month basis beginning January 1, 1963, Section 3 of its building -- which adjoined Section 4 -- to Blazon, Inc. (Blazon), for industrial uses, "including warehousing packaging and shipping" and, in accordance with the terms of the lease, Blazon entered into possession of Section 3.
An automatic fire sprinkler system ran through both Sections 3 and 4 of the building. On February 12, 1963, that portion of the sprinkler system located in
Section 4 "became activated without fire and caused flooding" in Section 4 which "resulted in water flooding under the door, into the building occupied by [Blazon], depositing about five (5) inches of water in said building" and causing water damage to Blazon's merchandise stored therein.*fn1
As stated in the opinion of the court below the "sprinkler system failed when a joint broke due to the failure of [the Association] to prevent moisture from forming in the system and the pipes being at such a level that when [the Association] failed to supply heat to the building leased [Section 4], the joint broke and water which supplied the 'dry' water sprinkler system fell onto the floor of the adjoining section [Section 3]" causing damage to Blazon's goods.
For several years prior to February 2, 1963 and on that date, Employers Liability Assurance Corporation, Ltd. (Employers), insured Blazon against loss or damage to Blazon's property caused by water. After Blazon's property had been damaged, Employers paid Blazon $14,852.20 for its damages and received an assignment from Blazon of any ...