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LEGION INDEMNITY CO. v. CARESTATE AMBULANCE INC.

May 3, 2001

LEGION INDEMNITY COMPANY, PLAINTIFF
v.
CARESTATE AMBULANCE, INC., SLAWOMIR CIELOSZCYK, RUSLAN ILEHUK, IVAN TKACH, STAR TECHNICAL INSTITUTE, INC., RALPH BESWICK, JR., ROSE WIEGAND, GREGORY SVERDLEV, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Giles, C.J.

    MEMORANDUM

I. Introduction

Legion Indemnity Company ("Legion"), brings this action against its insured, CareStat Ambulance, Inc. and its employees Slawomir Cieloczyk, Gregory Sverdlev, Ruslan Ilehuk, and Ivan Tkach (collectively "CareStat"), and the underlying claimants Ralph Mr. Beswick, Jr. ("Mr. Beswick"), and Rose Wiegand ("Ms. Wiegand"), for a declaratory judgment regarding an insurance policy that Legion sold to CareStat. Legion seeks a declaration of its coverage with respect to an underlying action that Mr. Beswick and Ms. Wiegand have brought against CareStat in Estate of Beswick v. City of Philadelphia, No. 00-CV-1304 (E.D.Pa. filed April 20, 2000) ("Second Amended Complaint").

Mr. Beswick and Ms. Wiegand filed a Motion for Summary Judgment of Legion's Declaratory Judgment Complaint.*fn1 Legion filed a Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment.

Mr. Beswick and Ms. Wiegand seek a declaratory judgment as to Legion's duty to defend CareStat, and a declaration that it is premature for this court to rule on the issue of indemnification. Legion seeks a declaration as to the potential amount that Legion would have to indemnify CareStat if CareStat were to be found liable, a declaration of what claims alleged by Mr. Beswick and Ms. Wiegand are potentially covered by the Legion General Policy and its Addenda, and a declaration as to what provisions of Legion's General Policy or its Addenda are implicated by Mr. Beswick and Ms. Wiegand's claims. These declaratory requests are ripe for decision since the proper declaratory relief can be determined by a plain reading of the provisions of the insurance policy and the allegations in the complaint in the underlying case.

For the reasons stated below, Mr. Beswick and Ms. Wiegand's Motion for Summary Judgment will be denied and Legion's Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment will be granted. A declaration that there is a duty by Legion to defend CareStat is not necessary at this time. Legion has tendered an on-going defense of CareStat and is not contesting its duty to defend.*fn2 (Pl.'s Reply Br. in Supp. of its Cross-Mot. for Summ. J. at 2.)

II. Factual Background

The factual background of the underlying case is outlined in detail in Beswick v. City of Philadelphia, No. CIV.A.00-1304, 2001 WL 210292 (E.D.Pa. March 1, 2001), and the court only relates the facts as necessary for an understanding of the declaratory judgement action. Mr. Beswick and Ms. Wiegand, Co-Administrators of the Estate of Ralph Beswick, Sr., have brought a federal and state tort action against many defendants.

These claims all arise from the death of Ralph Beswick, Sr. on February 11, 2000. On that date he collapsed on the floor of his home. Ms. Wiegand dialed 911 and told the dispatcher, Julia Rodriguez ("Ms. Rodriguez"), that he needed urgent assistance and requested an ambulance. It is alleged that Ms. Rodriguez then chose to violate an established regulation that requires 911 operators to refer all emergency medical calls to the Fire Department, which then dispatches Fire Rescue Units appropriately equipped and staffed to respond to such emergencies. She called a private ambulance company with which she worked in her off-duty hours rather than entering the details of the call into the City's Fire Department emergency response system.

On the night in question, immediately after speaking with the 911 caller, Ms. Rodriguez spoke to Slawomir Cieloszcyk ("Mr. Cieloszcyk"), the owner and dispatcher of CareStat. After advising Mr. Cieloszcyk that Ralph Beswick, Sr. was age 65 and unconscious, Ms. Rodriguez asked how long it would take CareStat to get to the Beswick home. Mr. Cieloszcyk estimated a time of fifteen minutes. He ended the conversation by saying, "We're on the way." Contrary to Pennsylvania's statutory requirements applicable to private ambulances, Mr. Cieloszcyk gave the assignment to employees Ruslan Ilehuk and Ivan Tkach, neither of whom was certified as "Advanced Life Support" or "Basic Life Support" systems personnel, and neither of whom was licensed for emergency vehicle operations.

About ten minutes after the first 911 call had been made, because there was yet no emergency vehicle at the Beswicks' home, Ms. Wiegand's sister called 911 again, at 8:02 p.m., to ask whether rescue services had already been dispatched to the Beswicks' address. This call was also received and handled by Ms. Rodriguez. Despite this second urgent call, Ms. Rodriguez still did not enter the call into the City's emergency dispatch system. She relied upon a belief that CareStat was on the way to the Beswicks' home as Mr. Cieloszcyk had promised. After a third call by Ms. Wiegand was handled by another dispatcher and a Fire department paramedic unit was dispatched, Ms. Rodriguez called Mr. Cieloszcyk at CareStat and told him that a City paramedic unit was responding to the Beswick home, and requested that he hide her involvement in the mishandling of the Beswick 911 calls. CareStat did not render any first-aid to Ralph Beswick, Sr. on the night of his death.

Only the state negligence claims against CareStat and its owners and employees are relevant for this declaratory judgment action.

Legion had issued a general liability insurance policy, GL10552323, to CareStat for the policy period January 11, 2000 to January 11, 2001 and Legion has been providing CareStat with an on-going defense in the underlying case. Legion seeks a declaration of its potential coverage if CareStat were to be found liable to Mr. Beswick and Ms. Wiegand.

A. The Insurance Policy

The General Policy, GL10552323, that Legion issued to CareStat contains the following relevant provisions:

Insuring Agreement

a. We will pay those sums that the insured becomes legally obligated to pay as damages because of "bodily injury" or "property damage" to which the insurance applies . . . (General Policy Section I. Coverages A. 1a.)
b. This insurance applies to "bodily injury" and "property damage" only if:
(1) The "bodily injury" or "property damage" is caused by an "occurrence" that takes place in the "coverage territory . . ." (General Policy Section I. Coverages A. b(1).)

Definition

a. "Bodily injury" means bodily injury, sickness or disease sustained by a person, including death resulting from any of these at any time. (General Policy Section V. 3.)
b. "Occurrence" means an accident, including continuous or repeated exposure to substantially the same general harmful conditions. (General Policy Section V. 12.)

3. Exclusions

a. This insurance does not ...


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