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DOROTHY PARKER v. WASHINGTON NATIONAL INSURANCE COMPANY (12/20/85)

filed: December 20, 1985.

DOROTHY PARKER
v.
WASHINGTON NATIONAL INSURANCE COMPANY, APPELLANT



No. 00343 Pittsburgh, 1984, Appeal from the Judgment of the Court of Common Pleas, Allegheny County, Civil Division, at No. 5172 of 1982.

COUNSEL

Walter T. McGough, Jr., Pittsburgh, for appellant.

Herbert M. Lurie, Pittsburgh, for appellee.

Brosky, Rowley and Feeney, JJ.*fn*

Author: Brosky

[ 348 Pa. Super. Page 342]

This case is before us on appeal from judgment entered for appellee Dorothy Parker, the beneficiary of an insurance policy issued by appellant insurance company on the life of Chester Parker. Mr. Parker was killed in an automobile accident on October 3, 1981, on the 40th Street Bridge in Pittsburgh. The sole issue raised on appeal is whether or not the insurance policy in question precludes recovery due to the insured having been "injured" as the result of his own intoxication. Appellant argues that the trial court erred in finding that the term "injury" in the Definitions and Exceptions section of the policy did not unambiguously include death, and in awarding benefits to appellee notwithstanding the fact that the insured died as the result of an

[ 348 Pa. Super. Page 343]

    injury incurred due to the insured being under the influence of an intoxicant. We find appellant's argument persuasive, and, accordingly, we reverse.

The case was originally tried before a Board of Arbitration, which found for appellee. The case was then appealed to the Court of Common Pleas for a de novo trial, and was decided, non-jury, as a "case stated" with a written stipulation of facts. The parties agreed that the deceased was insured for $10,000 at the time of his death under appellant's "100 Plus 10" travel accident policy, and that "[t]he collision causing Chester Parker's death occurred as a result of Chester Parker being under the influence of an intoxicant." The trial court also found for appellee, finding ambiguity in the policy.

The certificate of insurance issued to the deceased reads as follows:

[ 348 Pa. Super. Page ]

Washington National Insurance Company . . . HEREBY INSURES the person named in the Schedule of Certificate Information on the filing back of Page four hereof (the Insured) for the period (beginning with the effective date shown in such schedule at 12:01 A.M., Standard Time at the place where the Insured resides), that he remains a member in good standing of the Club, against loss of life and for hospitalization resulting from accidental bodily injury sustained while this Certificate is in force subject to all conditions and limitations of the Group Accident Policy, and sustained by the insured only in the manner described before (hereinafter called Such Injury).

(1) AUTOMOBILE AND BICYCLE. While driving or riding in any automobile, taxicab, bus, truck, camper, motor-home, ...


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