action, he could be subject to a malpractice claim.
Relevant Case Law
Summary Judgment is appropriate "if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show 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). When the underlying facts are not in dispute, determining the coverage of an insurance policy is a question of law. See Niagara Fire Insurance Co. v. Pepicelli, Watts and Youngs, P.C., 821 F.2d 216 219 (3d Cir. 1987); Standard Venetian Blind Co. v. American Empire Ins. Co., 503 Pa. 300, 469 A.2d 563, 566 (Pa. 1984). "The policy language must be tested by what a reasonable person in the position of the insured would have understood the words to mean." Lucker Mfg., Inc. v. Home Ins. Co., 23 F.3d 808, 814 (3d Cir. 1994).
In interpreting insurance policies, the court must strictly construe exclusions against the insurer. First Pennsylvania Bank v. National Union Fire Ins. Co., 397 Pa. Super. 612, 580 A.2d 799, 802 (Pa. Super. 1990). However, courts are to read policy provisions in the context of the entire policy to avoid ambiguities where possible. Niagara Fire Ins. Co., 821 F.2d at 220.
The defendants claim that, based on Thomas' conversation with Watt, Thomas did not believe Watt intended to file a claim. The defendants argue that we must take into account Thomas' subjective state of mind when we consider whether a "reasonable person" with his knowledge of the facts could have foreseen that a claim might be filed against him. Mt. Airy argues that the policy, including the Renewal Application and Disclosure Form, call for an objective evaluation of facts which could give rise to a claim of malpractice.
We have not located substantial precedent interpreting "reasonably foreseeable" language in the context of professional liability insurance contracts. Several other courts have addressed analogous cases but the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has not decided the issue presented here. In the absence of guidance from the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, we will review other relevant cases an endeavor to predict how the Pennsylvania Supreme Court would interpret this contract language. Koppers Co. Inc. v. Aetna Casualty and Sur. Co., 98 F.3d 1440, 1445 (3d Cir. 1996).
In Home Indemnity Co. v. Toombs, 910 F. Supp. 1569 (N.D. Ga. 1995), the court determined that, under Georgia law, an insurance company could rescind a professional liability policy on the basis of a false answer to a question on an insurance form. The question called for "any acts, errors or omissions that could result in professional liability." Id. at 1574 (emphasis added). In Toombs, the attorney had entered his appearance in an existing action, voluntarily dismissed that action and subsequently refiled it after the applicable statute of limitations had run. He had answered "no" to the insurance form question mentioned above. In support of that answer, he argued that his client had not discussed filing a claim against him. Id. The court held that the subjective belief of the attorney was not an issue. Id.
In the alternative, the court looked to the language of the policy itself. The policy at issue contained the following language:
...no reasonable basis to believe that the insured had breached a professional duty or to foresee that a claim would be made against him