The opinion of the court was delivered by: YVETTE KANE, District Judge
Pending before the Court is a motion for summary judgment filed
by Coregis Insurance Company ("Coregis"). (Doc. No. 145.) By the
motion, Coregis seeks entry of an order declaring that the
insurance company is not obligated to defend or indemnify Dauphin
County under a claims-made public officials liability insurance
policy in effect from June 15, 2002 to June 15, 2003 with respect
to the underlying civil rights action of Steven D. Crawford v.
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, et al., Civil Action No.
1:CV-03-693 ("Crawford").*fn1 The issues have been fully
briefed, and the motion is ripe for disposition. For the reasons that follow, the motion will be
On April 15, 2002, John D. Payne, Chairman of the Dauphin
County Commissioners, signed an application to obtain public
officials insurance coverage from Coregis. (Doc. No. 145, Ex. B.,
Proposal for Public Officials and Employment Insurance.) In this
application, Payne indicated that no claims had been made, or
were pending, against Dauphin County or any of its officials or
employees. (Id.) Payne further represented that no Dauphin
County official or employee had any knowledge of any fact,
circumstance, or situation that might reasonably be expected to
give rise to a claim against them or Dauphin. (Id.)
Subsequently, Coregis issued Dauphin a Public Officials
Liability Policy (No. POD-002329) effective from June 15, 2002 to
June 15, 2003 ("POL Policy") (Doc. No. 145 Ex. B.) Dauphin paid a
premium in the amount of $118,203 for the POL Policy. (Id.) The
POL Policy provides the following coverage, subject to certain
applicable exclusions and exceptions:
The Company will pay on behalf of the Insureds Loss
as a result of civil Claims made against the Insureds
by reason of a Wrongful Act, provided that Claim is
first made during the Policy Period and written
report of said Claim is received by the Company
during the Policy Period or within sixty (60) days
(Id.) The POL Policy defines a "Wrongful Act" as "any act,
error or omission of an Insured constituting a breach of a duty
imposed by law or a breach of an Employment Contract." (Id.)
The POL Policy provides, inter alia, the following
This Policy does not apply to the following,
regardless of the cause of action or theory alleged:
. . .
B. any Claim or Loss Arising Out of any criminal,
dishonest, malicious, fraudulent or knowingly
wrongful act or omission.
. . .
D. any Claim or Loss Arising Out of death, bodily
injury, sickness, disease, disability, shock,
humiliation, embarrassment, mental injury, mental
anguish, emotional distress, or injury to personal or
business reputation or character.
. . .
F. any Claim or Loss Arising Out of assault, battery,
false arrest, detention, imprisonment, malicious
prosecution or abuse of process.
In addition to the foregoing exclusions, the POL Policy Prior
Claims and Potential Claims Endorsement provides:
This Policy does not apply to any Claims or Loss
arising out of any matter that was listed, or should
have been listed, in the application(s) attached to
B. The Underlying Litigation and Dauphin County's Claim for
On March 28, 2003, Crawford commenced the underlying action by
filing a complaint against Dauphin County, the City of
Harrisburg, and a number of individual defendants for alleged
violations of 42 U.S.C. §§ 1983, 1985 and 1986, fraud, false
imprisonment, conspiracy, and intentional infliction of emotional
distress relating to his arrest, conviction and imprisonment for murder.*fn2 The factual allegations set forth in the
Crawford complaint are discussed in some detail below.
On February 14, 1974, Crawford was arrested and charged with
the 1970 murder of John Eddie Mitchell. (Crawford Complaint ¶
9.) Crawford was tried and found guilty on September 18, 1974.
(Id. ¶ 19.) On October 8, 1976, the Supreme Court of
Pennsylvania ordered a new trial. (Id. ¶ 20.) On February 24,
1977, Crawford was again tried and found guilty a second time.
(Id. 21.) The trial judge subsequently declared a mistrial and
overturned Crawford's conviction. (Id. ¶ 22.) Following a third
trial for Mitchell's murder, Crawford was again found guilty on
February 17, 1978. (Id. ¶ 24.) On May 14, 1982, Crawford was
sentenced to a term of life imprisonment. (Id. ¶ 25.)
Following his sentencing, Crawford engaged in a series of
unsuccessful attempts in state and federal court to obtain
post-conviction relief, including appeals of his conviction,
petitions under the Post Conviction Relief Act, and requests for
habeas relief. (Id. ¶¶ 26-34, 49, 71-75.) Subsequently, on
September 29, 2000, Crawford filed another habeas petition, which
was amended on November 29, 2000. (Id. ¶ 34.) By order dated
March 13, 2001, the Office of the Federal Public Defender was
appointed to represent Crawford in connection with this petition.
(Id. ¶ 49.) Following this appointment, Crawford's counsel and
the Dauphin County District Attorney engaged in a process of
voluntary discovery. (Id. ¶ 50.) Following the fortuitous
discovery of exculpatory evidence, the District Attorney filed an application for permission to enter a
nolle prosequi on or about July 16, 2002, and Crawford was
released from prison. (Id. ¶¶ 77, 79.) Thereafter, on March 28,
2003, Crawford commenced the underlying action.
Crawford's complaint concerns the alleged actions of three law
enforcement officers involved in Crawford's prosecution and
conviction for Mitchell's murder. Crawford alleges that he was
convicted as a result of falsified laboratory notes and the
issuance of a report based upon such notes, false testimony
offered at trial based upon the altered notes and report, and the
suppression of the original lab notes. (Id. ¶¶ 36-48, 55-66,
76, 78, 84-86, 88, 94-95, 97, 102-103, 111-112, 117.)
Crawford alleges that in 1972, Janice Roadcap, a chemist with
the Pennsylvania State Police, conducted an experiment on a palm
print lifted from Crawford's father's automobile to determine
whether certain foreign material found in the palm print was
human blood. (Id. ¶ 40.) Roadcap viewed the results of this
experiment with Sergeant Walton B. Simpson and Corporal John
Balshy.*fn3 (Id.) Roadcap and Balshy each signed the lab
notes, and all three law enforcement officials observed the
testing. (Id. ¶¶ 40, 42-43.)
Roadcap's notes taken during this time indicate that the
experiment disclosed the presence of blood along the ridges of
the recovered fingerprint, as well as in the valleys of the
palmprint. (Id. ¶ 41.) This evidence would have allegedly
supported an argument advanced by Crawford during his criminal
trials that his print was already on his father's car at the time
it came into contact with Mitchell's blood. (Id. ¶ 56.) Notwithstanding the result of the experiment,
Crawford alleges that the law enforcement officials altered the
original lab notes by deleting any reference to blood being found
in the valleys of the palm print. (Id. ¶ 44.) This deletion was
allegedly intentionally executed "to materially alter the record
and conceal information which was exculpatory to Mr. Crawford."
(Id. ¶ 45.) On November 30, 1972, Roadcap prepared a report
containing the following statement: "[The test results] indicates
the presence of blood deposited by the donor of the palmprint."
(Id. ¶ 46.) By this statement, Roadcap indicated that the blood
was located on Crawford's hand before he touched his father's
automobile, apparently contradicting the results reported in
Roadcap's lab notes. (Id.) Accordingly, Crawford alleges that
the testimony Roadcap, Simpson and Balshy gave in connection with
his criminal trials was "patently false and known by them to be
false." (Id. ¶ 47.) Crawford alleges ...