No. 2500 Philadelphia, 1980, Appeal from the Order dated October 23, 1980, Court of Common Pleas, Lackawanna County, Civil Division, at No. 322, March Term, 1976.
Michael J. Donohue, Scranton, for appellant.
Joseph Papparelli, Scranton, for appellee.
Spaeth, Johnson and Wieand, JJ.
[ 292 Pa. Super. Page 118]
This is an appeal from an Order of the Court of Common Pleas, Lackawanna County, denying the defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment and granting Summary Judgment in favor of the plaintiff.
Plaintiff-appellee is the beneficiary of a life insurance policy on the life of Thomas Roque. The policy provided for an additional benefit if the insured's death resulted from "bodily injury caused solely by external, violent and accidental means." The insurance company paid on the life insurance policy but denied the additional accidental death benefit. The beneficiary brought suit against the appellant insurance company.
The death of the insured occurred after he was shot by a policeman while apparently burglarizing an unoccupied home. The police had arrived, summoned by a burglar alarm system, while the insured was upstairs. The insured called out a warning to the policeman to get out or he would kill him, and as the insured emerged from the bedroom carrying a gun he had found in the bedroom, the policeman fired, killing the insured.
The insurance company appeals the summary judgment granted to the beneficiary on the grounds that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law because the death of the insured cannot be considered the result of an accident. Brief for Appellant at 5. The court in its decision relied on
[ 292 Pa. Super. Page 119]
Court preferred to avoid because of its ambiguity and imprecision. As we see it, the Court chose to depart from any doctrine "that recovery should be denied if the insured's death, although unintentional, resulted from an intentional act of the deceased." See Beckham, 424 Pa. at 110, 225 A.2d at 533. See also Mohn v. American Casualty Co., 458 Pa. 576, 326 A.2d 346 (1974), where the court stated:
As has been indicated the modern legal trend is to abandon the former "reasonably foreseeable" rule and treat the occurrence as accidental even though it resulted from the insured's criminal conduct. This Court noted its adherence to the modern view in our decision in Beckham v. Travelers Insur. Co., 424 Pa. 107, 225 A.2d 532 (1967). There we stated:
"It has been suggested, however, that we limit our holding to those cases which do not involve an unreasonable risk of harm to the insured and that we therefore affirm the Superior Court's decision. This argument, of course, assumes that the insured's action in the instant case did amount to an unreasonable risk of harm. While this assumption might be valid vis-a-vis his general health and well being, there is no basis in the record for concluding that the insured was unduly exposing himself to the risk of death by his action. Moreover, no jurisdiction which has interpreted accidental means and accidental results to be legally synonymous has ...