Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

STATE FARM FIRE & CAS. CO. v. CHRISTOPHER

November 2, 1988

STATE FARM FIRE AND CASUALTY COMPANY, Plaintiff,
v.
DAVID G. CHRISTOPHER, DIANE CHARNELL, DAVID A. CHARNELL, DORIS E. CHARNELL, DAWN CHARNELL, EARNEST L. HUEY, DOLORES E. HUEY, and ERIN E. HUEY, Defendants


Glenn E. Mencer, United States District Judge.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: MENCER

GLENN E. MENCER, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

 This case involves a dispute over the insurance coverage of injuries to minor girls caused by sexual molestation. State Farm Fire and Casualty Company brought this action for a declaratory judgment, asserting that sexual molestation was an intentional wrong and was excluded from the homeowner's policy. The parties have filed cross-motions for summary judgment which are presently pending before this Court.

 1. Facts

 David G. Christopher ("Christopher") owns a house and swimming pool in Bethel Park, Pennsylvania. The other defendants also live in Bethel Park. Three of the defendants, Erin Huey, Diane Charnell, and Dawn Charnell, are minor girls who frequently swam at Christopher's pool during the early 1980's.

 On March 6, 1986, Christopher was convicted of the corruption of the morals of a minor, indecent assault, and indecent exposure. The victims of Christopher's crimes were Erin Huey, Diane Charnell, and Dawn Charnell.

 Christopher obtained his homeowner's insurance from State Farm Fire and Casualty Company ("State Farm"). The insurance policy would normally cover an injury to someone while at the swimming pool. An exception to the personal liability section, however, provides that coverage does not apply to "bodily injury or property damage which is expected or intended by the insured."

 State Farm contends that Christopher's molestation of the three girls, which occurred repeatedly over a number of years, was intentional, and thus excluded from coverage under the policy. The defendants argue that Christopher's multiple sclerosis had become so advanced that it affected his ability to control his impulses and to understand the nature of his acts and their effect on the girls. Therefore, they assert, his actions were not intentional and are covered by the policy.

 2. Legal Analysis

 A. Cross-Motions for Summary Judgment

 The standard for cross-motions for summary judgments is the same as for individual motions for summary judgment. The court handles cross-motions as if they were two distinct, independent motions. Rains v. Cascade Industries, Inc., 402 F.2d 241, 245 (3d Cir. 1968). Thus, in evaluating each motion, the court must consider the facts and inferences in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. Goodman v. Mead Johnson & Co., 534 F.2d 566 (3d Cir. 1976), cert. denied, 429 U.S. 1038, 50 L. Ed. 2d 748, 97 S. Ct. 732 (1977). Rule 56(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provides that a court shall grant summary judgment if it finds that, "there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law." Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c).

 B. Interpretation of Insurance Policy Language

 As a federal district court exercising diversity jurisdiction, we must apply the choice of law principles of the forum state in which we sit. Klaxon Co. v. Stentor Electric Manufacturing Co., Inc., 313 U.S. 487, 61 S. Ct. 1020, 85 L. Ed. 1477 (1941); Melville v. American Home Assurance Co., 584 F.2d 1306, 1308 (3d Cir. 1978). Pennsylvania has adopted a flexible conflicts methodology which takes into account both the grouping of contacts with the various concerned jurisdictions and the interests and policies of the concerned jurisdictions. Griffith v. United Air Lines, Inc., 416 Pa. 1, 203 A.2d 796 (1964); Melville, 584 F.2d 1306. Because all of the actions occurred in Pennsylvania, we will apply Pennsylvania's laws.

 The rules of insurance contract construction are well settled. Under the rule that applies most directly to the facts of this case, a court must construe ambiguous language in favor of the insured. Totedo v. Banker's ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.