27. Legislative Route 43099 is a two-lane secondary road with dirt surface of approximately five miles beginning about one mile west of the Ligo home, is less traveled and less congested than other routes, and a more pleasant drive than Route 62.
28. Legislative Route 43099 is almost two miles north of the Mall at its closest point and U.S. Route 80 is about three miles south of the Mall at its nearest point.
29. The trip to the Shenango Valley Mall office each morning required that Ligo use the Route 62 course of travel, it being the most direct and shortest route of travel to the Mall office. The messenger trips required Ligo to leave home earlier than would be the case if he were driving directly from his home to the main office.
30. Ligo's time of arrival at the Sharon main office each morning depended upon the Mall branch bank being open when he arrived there with a man available there to open the vault. The Mall branch was generally open about 8:30 a.m. so that Ligo by reason of his messenger duty could not have arranged his arrival at the main office of the bank much earlier than 9:00 a.m. in the morning had he desired to do so.
31. It was reasonably necessary for Ligo to use his automobile in the performance of his messenger duties for the bank.
32. The McDowell National Bank of Sharon, Ligo's employer, had the right to control Ligo from the time he left his home until he reached his place of regular employment in Sharon.
This litigation presents a problem of interpretation. At the time of the accident, Ligo was on a trip authorized and directed by officers of the bank for the purpose of furthering the business of the bank. This trip did not constitute everyday travel to Ligo's regular place of work at the main bank in Sharon, for it required an intervening deviation to the branch office at the Shenango Valley Mall to pick up bank items. He sustained injuries resulting in his death during the course of that trip. This business trip commenced when Ligo left his residence near Mercer and the accident occurred before he reached the Shenango Valley Mall office. In our opinion, the parenthetical clause excluding coverage for injuries sustained in everyday travel to work is not applicable. If the defendant insurer had wished to exclude from coverage trips made by an insured person who was engaged in furthering the business of the bank and while he was also engaged in everyday travel to work, it should have said so.
The average person would understand the exclusionary clause to bar coverage for accidents occurring in the course of everyday travel to work when the insured person is not engaged in furthering the business of the bank. Restatement, Contracts, §§ 230, 235(a); Couch on Insurance 2d, §§ 15.73, 15.83.
It is clear that Ligo deviated from his preferred route to work by way of the Sharpsville-Mercer Road (Finding 24) by traveling through Mercer and on Route 62 in order to perform the business of the bank at the Shenango Valley Mall branch. Even if Route 62 were deemed his normal everyday travel route to work, he was required to deviate about four-tenths of a mile therefrom in order to get to the branch office in the Mall (Finding 19). Cf. Morningstar v. Insurance Company of North America, 295 F. Supp. 1342 (S.D.N.Y. 1969).
In Morningstar, as here, suit was brought on a special hazards group travel policy for a death benefit. The policy covered travel on business and excluded "commutation travel", which is synonymous to the phrase "everyday travel to and from work". In that case, the decedent left home for work by automobile as was his custom, but, as here, he intended to make a stop for business purposes which required a substantial deviation from his normal route to work.
As here, his regular place of employment was not his immediate or sole destination. As here, he was accompanied by a business associate who was his usual passenger. As here, he was on the route usually traveled when the fatal accident occurred. The insurer contended that the exclusion applied. It was held that at the time of the accident, the decedent was engaged in travel for business purposes "to 'a point * * * located away from the premises of permanent assignment'", and was not at the time of the accident engaged in "commutation travel". The Court construed "commutation travel" to mean regular travel between home and office for the sole purpose of reaching the intended destination. We think "everyday travel to and from work" should receive a like construction. If the term is ambiguous, a construction must be given that is favorable to the insured. Armon v. Aetna Casualty & Surety Co., 369 Pa. 465, 468, 87 A.2d 302, 303; Frisch v. State Farm Fire & Casualty Company, 218 Pa. Super. 211, 275 A.2d 849; Simon v. Hospital Service Ass'n of Pittsburgh, 192 Pa. Super. 68, 159 A.2d 52; Couch on Insurance 2d, § 15.73. We think the Pennsylvania courts would agree with the interpretations and conclusions in Morningstar. The fact that Ligo, a bank officer, was required to make this business trip every working day to render messenger service, we think, is not material to the issue of coverage.
In our opinion the plaintiff has sustained her burden of proving that she is entitled to recover under the policy and that the exclusion does not apply.
CONCLUSIONS OF LAW
1. Federal jurisdiction is based on diversity of citizenship, and Pennsylvania law governs this case.
2. At the time of the accident Ligo was a Class I Insured Person covered by the special hazards group life insurance policy issued by the defendant.
3. At the time of the accident Ligo was on a trip from his residence and was engaged in furthering the business of the bank.
4. The word "work" used as a noun is ambiguous.
5. If the word "work" in the phrase "everyday travel to and from work" means any kind of work, Ligo was already at work when the accident occurred since he was performing a special errand and was on the business of the bank from the time he left his home with the mail bag.
6. The exclusion "everyday travel to and from work" does not apply to an employee who is on the business of the bank and, therefore, at work from the time he left his home each morning.
7. The word "work" in the phrase "everyday travel to and from work", reasonably construed, means the place where the employee earned his livelihood, which in this case was decedent's place of regular employment, the main office of the McDowell National Bank in Sharon, Pennsylvania.
8. The exclusion "everyday travel to and from work" was intended to apply to one traveling from his home to his place of regular employment for the sole purpose of reaching his place of regular employment. Where there is any deviation for a business purpose, the exclusion does not apply.
9. The trip by Ligo to the Shenango Valley Mall office of the bank in Hickory Township each morning involved a deviation from the shortest route of travel in time from his home to the main office of the bank, and constituted an even greater deviation from other routes of travel available to the decedent from his home to his office in the bank at Sharon, Pennsylvania.
10. The coverage afforded under the policy to an officer does not depend on the officer performing the duties of his office at the time of the accident, the only requirement for coverage as an officer being that the Insured Person be an officer and be on the business of the bank.
11. The phrase "Officers and Managers" designated as Class I Insured Persons means either officers or managers.
12. Where an insurance policy is reasonably susceptible to two interpretations, a construction must be given that is favorable to the insured.
13. The plaintiff administratrix is entitled to recover the sum of $50,000, with interest thereon at the rate of 6% per annum from August 1, 1970.
ORDER OF COURT
AND NOW, to-wit, this 17th day of February, 1972, after non-jury trial, IT IS ORDERED, ADJUDGED AND DECREED that judgment be and the same hereby is entered in favor of the plaintiff, Julia G. Ligo, Administratrix of the Estate of J. Edwin Ligo, deceased, and against the defendant, Continental Casualty Company, in the sum of $50,000, with interest thereon at the rate of 6% per annum from August 1, 1970.