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MERCHANTS MUT. INS. CO. v. ARTIS

November 21, 1995

MERCHANTS MUTUAL INSURANCE CO., Plaintiff,
v.
HUBERT & ROSE ARTIS, Policy Holder-Defendants, -and- JULIA JONES, Individually and as Administratrix of the Estates of PRESTON MOYE and KEITH MOYE, -and- LYNDA McLAUGHLIN, Administratrix of the Estate of ROBERT LAVENHOUSE, -and- WANDA HARTWELL, Individually and as Administratrix of the Estate of ANWAN REID, Assignee-Defendants.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: MCGLYNN

 McGlynn, J.

 November 21, 1995

 This declaratory judgment action arises from claims made against Merchant Mutual's insureds, Hubert and Rose Artis (hereinafter the Artises), by the estates of four foster children who perished in a fire in the Artises' foster home on August 31, 1989. Before the court are Cross-Motions for Summary Judgment. Plaintiff, Merchants Mutual contends that it is not contractually bound to provide a defense or indemnification to the Artises because the homeowners policy it issued to them specifically excludes coverage for claims made by "residents of the household," which includes the deceased foster children. Defendants Julia Jones, Lynda McLaughlin, and Wanda Hartwell, the administratrices of the deceased foster children's estates (hereinafter the Estates or Intervenors), filed a Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment, asserting that the Plaintiff should be estopped from denying coverage. For the reasons that follow, Plaintiff's Motion will be GRANTED and Defendants' Motion will be DENIED.

 I. Factual Background

 On the evening of August 31, 1989, a fire occurred in the foster home of Rose and Hubert Artis, located at 6302 North Park Avenue in Philadelphia. Four of the seventeen foster children residing in the Artises' home perished. Prior to the fire, Merchants Mutual issued and delivered a homeowners insurance policy to the Artises. The policy provided as follows with regard to liability coverage:

 
SECTION II - EXCLUSIONS
 
It is agreed that under Section II - EXCLUSIONS OF THE POLICY, paragraph 2 is subject to the additional exclusion that Coverage E - Personal - Liability, does not apply to:
 
f. bodily injury to you and any insured within the meaning of part a. or b. of Definition 3. "insured."

 Further, the policy defines an "insured" as follows:

 
3. "insured" means you and the following residents of your household:
 
a. your relatives
 
b. any other person under the age of 21 who is in the care of any person named above.

 The policy also defines "bodily injury" as "bodily harm, sickness or disease, including required care, loss of services ...


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