contracted and delivered, in construing the terms of the policy. Id. at 1074-1075.
The following provisions of the policy are pertinent:
Collapse. We insure for direct physical loss to covered property involving collapse of a building or any part of a building caused only by one or more of the following: . . .
b. hidden decay. . .
Collapse does not include settling, cracking, shrinking, bulging or expansion.
. . .
Section I -- Exclusions
We do not insure for loss caused directly or indirectly by any of the following. Such loss is excluded regardless of any other cause or event contributing concurrently or in any sequence to the loss.
1. Ordinance or Law, meaning enforcement of any ordinance or law regulating the construction, repair, or demolition of a building or other structure, unless specifically provided under this policy. . . .
See policy at 5 and 7, attached as Exhibit A to Plaintiff's Motion for Summary Judgment.
None of the other named perils in Section I -- Perils Insured Against -- were cited in the Weaver affidavit as possibly causing the collapse. The only possibility for the DeMartas to recover, therefore, lies in the provision covering collapse. Where the language of a contract is clear and unambiguous, Pennsylvania law requires us to give effect to such language. Worldwide Underwriters Insurance Co. v. Brady, 973 F.2d 192; Standard Venetian Blind Co. v. American Empire Insurance Co., 503 Pa. 300, 305, 469 A.2d 563, 566 (1983).
Norfolk & Dedham makes three alternative arguments that it is not obligated to cover the loss. First, we consider plaintiff's argument that the "building inspector notes that at the time of demolition the involved premises was only in a state of partial collapse." Plaintiff's Memorandum of Law in Support of Summary Judgment at 4. The policy at issue, however, specifically states that it covers "collapse of a building or any part of a building" (emphasis added). According to Mr. Weaver's affidavit, this is exactly what occurred. He stated unequivocally that "the rear portion of the south bearing wall of the structure had collapsed, leaving 12 second floor joists completely unsupported." Affidavit at page 2. His affidavit also confirms that L&I recognized that as a practical matter the building was considered to have completely collapsed. No other conclusion can be drawn from Mr. Weaver's statement that "there is no question the building would have completely collapsed if not immediately demolished." Id.2
We next turn to the cause of the collapse. Mr. Weaver's affidavit clearly states that "the deteriorated condition was caused by long term exposure to elements of wind and rain leading to hidden decay and deterioration of the foundation and bearing wall." The definition of "decay" as it pertains to material things is: "Wasting or wearing away, disintegration; dilapidation, ruinous condition." IV Oxford English Dictionary, 322 (Clarendon Press, 2d Ed. 1989).
The policy provides that a covered collapse can be "caused only by one or more" of the factors enumerated in its section covering "collapse". Here that factor must be "hidden decay," as no other enumerated factor applies to the facts of this case. Norfolk & Dedham relies on Mr. Weaver's statement that removal of the rain conductors allowed rain to run down the walls and contributed to the collapse to argue that the collapse was caused by more than the one factor of "hidden decay," and therefore, the collapse is not covered. We find this argument contrary to the plain meaning of Mr. Weaver's words. The fair inference is that the exposure to rain contributed to the overall condition of "hidden decay," which is unambiguously a covered cause of collapse under the policy.
Finally, Norfolk & Dedham contends that the loss was caused by L&I's action in demolishing the house, and relies upon its "Ordinance or Law" policy exclusion, recited above. This provision excludes a loss which is caused by the enforcement of law, i.e., a loss directly caused by demolition "regardless of any other cause or event contributing concurrently or in any sequence to the loss."
We find that on the facts of this case, this exclusion should not apply because L&I's actions neither caused the loss nor contributed to it. Mr. Weaver's affidavit makes clear that the acts of L&I in demolishing the house merely constituted a recognition of the collapse that had already occurred because of the hidden decay. Norfolk & Dedham seeks to benefit from the fortuitous situation that the DeMartas were not in Philadelphia to take note of the collapse and report it before L&I saw it and demolished the house. We find that under the plain terms of the policy, the "Ordinance or Law" provision is inapplicable on the facts of this case.
Because we find that the loss of the house was caused by collapse due to hidden decay, which is clearly covered under the DeMartas' homeowners policy, we will grant defendants' motion for summary judgment and declare that their claim is covered. Correspondingly, plaintiff's motion for summary judgment is denied.
An Order follows.
EDITOR'S NOTE: The following court-provided text does not appear at this cite in 799 F. Supp.
AND NOW, this 25th day of August, 1992, upon consideration of the parties' cross-motions for summary judgment and the responses thereto, and for the reasons discussed in the accompanying memorandum, it is hereby ORDERED that defendants' motion for summary judgment is GRANTED and plaintiff's motion for summary judgment is DENIED. It is FURTHER ORDERED that JUDGMENT IS ENTERED in favor of defendants and against plaintiff.
BY THE COURT:
Stewart Dalzell, J.