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UNITED STATES FIDELITY AND GUARANTY v. RICHARD E. GRIGGS (04/12/85)

filed: April 12, 1985.

UNITED STATES FIDELITY AND GUARANTY
v.
RICHARD E. GRIGGS, AND JANE D. GRIGGS, T/D/B/A DIAMOND-LITE STEAK HOUSE AND COCKTAIL LOUNGE AND ORMOND E. PELUSO, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS ADMINISTRATOR OF THE ESTATE OF NOELLE MARIE PELUSO, DECEASED. APPEAL OF RICHARD E. GRIGGS AND JANE D. GRIGGS, T/D/B/A DIAMOND-LITE STEAK HOUSE AND COCKTAIL LOUNGE



No. 141 Harrisburg 1984, Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas, Civil Division, of Lycoming County at No. 83-00336.

COUNSEL

Clifford A. Rieders, Williamsport, for appellants.

Robert A. Seiferth, Media, for U.S., appellee.

Richard J. Callahan, Williamsport, for Peluso, appellee.

Wickersham, Del Sole and Popovich, JJ.

Author: Wickersham

[ 341 Pa. Super. Page 288]

Appellants Richard E. and Jane D. Griggs, t/d/b/a Diamond-Lite Steak House and Cocktail Lounge, appeal from the order of the Court of Common Pleas of Lycoming County granting summary judgment against them.

In 1977, appellants contacted Mr. Terry Neubold, an agent of United States Fidelity and Guaranty (hereinafter "U.S.F.&G."), in order to obtain insurance for the restaurant/bar business which they were opening. After some discussion, appellants purchased an insurance package from Mr. Neubold, which was mailed to them with a cover letter. At some later date, but prior to October 26, 1978, Mr. Neubold had a discussion with Mr. Griggs concerning the fact that appellants' policy did not cover "liquor liability." As a result of this conversation, Mr. Neubold sent appellants a letter dated October 26, 1978 explaining "liquor liability" coverage.

On August 23, 1981, Noelle Marie Peluso was killed in an automobile accident. Ormond E. Peluso, individually and as administrator of Noelle's estate, filed suit against appellants, alleging that appellants had served alcohol to the driver of the car which killed Noelle when the driver was visibly intoxicated.*fn1 Appellants informed U.S.F. & G. of the lawsuit, but U.S.F. & G. subsequently denied coverage under the policy.

[ 341 Pa. Super. Page 289]

On February 17, 1983, U.S.F. & G. filed a declaratory judgment action to obtain a judicial determination of the validity of the liquor liability exclusion in the policy issued to appellants. Appellants filed an answer and, as new matter, requested a declaratory judgment in their favor.*fn2 Following various other pleadings and discovery, both U.S.F. & G. and appellants filed motions for summary judgment. The trial court, finding the exclusion in the policy unambiguous, ruled, based upon Standard Venetian Blind Co. v. American Empire Insurance Co., 503 Pa. 300, 469 A.2d 563 (1983), that summary judgment should be entered for U.S.F. & G., and entered an order to that effect on February 8, 1984. Appellants filed this timely appeal.*fn3

Appellants' sole issue before us is as follows:

Was the insurance policy exclusion so clearly worded and conspiciously [sic] displayed as to render the exclusion ...


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