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HIONIS v. NORTHERN MUTUAL INSURANCE COMPANY ET AL. (09/23/74)

decided: September 23, 1974.

HIONIS
v.
NORTHERN MUTUAL INSURANCE COMPANY ET AL., APPELLANTS



Appeal from order of Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County, No. 6300 of 1971, in case of Alexander Hionis v. Northern Mutual Insurance Company and Nationwide Mutual Fire Insurance Company.

COUNSEL

Peter A. Dunn, with him Fronefield, deFuria & Petrikin, for appellants.

Rodger L. Mutzel, with him Kassab, Cherry & Archbold, for appellee.

Watkins, P. J., Jacobs, Hoffman, Cercone, Price, Van der Voort, and Spaeth, JJ. Opinion by Hoffman, J. Jacobs, J., would affirm on the opinion of Judge Jerome, of the court below.

Author: Hoffman

[ 230 Pa. Super. Page 513]

This is an appeal from a directed verdict in favor of the plaintiff for damages recovered under two insurance policies for fire loss.

On July 13, 1970, the plaintiff-appellee was the lessee of premises located at 625 Welsh Street in the City of Chester, where he was trading under the name of the Welsh Restaurant. On that date, the restaurant was destroyed by fire, together with its contents, improvements and fixtures. Plaintiff gave prompt notice of his loss to the defendant insurance companies demanding payment of full coverage under the combined policies.*fn1 Despite combined coverage of $49,500.00, defendants denied liability for the full amount and tendered the sum of $12,733.86 as their estimate of the amount owed. Payment was refused, and suit was instituted in the Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County. On March 19, 1973, the case was tried before the Honorable C. Norwood Wherry and a jury.

The plaintiff introduced the insurance policies to evidence improvements and betterments coverage in the amounts claimed. Defendant did not contest the policy limits but maintained that since plaintiff did not repair or replace the improvements destroyed in the fire, he was entitled only to a proportionate amount of the cost of said improvements. The controversy centered around the following relevant portions of the policies:

" (E) Improvements and Betterments Coverage:

"(Applies only when insured is not the building owner) When the insurance under this policy covers Improvements and Betterments, such insurance shall

[ 230 Pa. Super. Page 514]

    cover the insured's use interest in Improvements and Betterments to the described building.

"(1) The term 'Improvements and Betterments', wherever used in this policy, is defined as fixtures, alterations, installations, or additions comprising a part of the described building and made or acquired at the expense of the insured, ...


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