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Coregis Insurance Co. v. City of Harrisburg

March 30, 2006


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Kane


Before the Court is Coregis Insurance Company's motion for summary judgment against the City of Harrisburg and Dauphin County. (Doc. No. 203.) By the motion, Coregis requests entry of an order declaring that the insurance company is not obligated to defend or indemnify Dauphin County or Harrisburg under certain municipal package insurance policies 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 City of Harrisburg has also filed a cross-motion for summary judgment, seeking entry of an order declaring that Coregis is obligated to provide the city with a defense in the Crawford litigation under each of the municipal package and umbrella policies issued to the city between 1997 and 2001. (Doc. No. 240). The issues have been fully briefed, and the motions are ripe for disposition. For the reasons that follow, the Court finds that none of the insurance policies under consideration provide coverage for the claims alleged in the Crawford litigation. Accordingly, Coregis's motion for summary judgment will be granted and Harrisburg's cross-motion will be denied.

I. Background

Coregis's motion for summary judgment is substantially similar to a number of other dispositive motions that the Court considered and granted with respect to other third-party defendants to this action. (See Doc. No. 193.) In short, Coregis argues that it issued certain occurrence-based insurance policies to Harrisburg and Dauphin County having applicable policy periods between 1998 and 2001, and that none of the policies obligate Coregis to provide Harrisburg or Dauphin County with defense or indemnity in connection with the Crawford litigation. As has been persuasively argued by several other third-party defendant-insurers, the Crawford complaint alleges tortious conduct and resultant injury dating to the 1970s, when Crawford was prosecuted on three separate occasions for the murder of John Eddie Mitchell. The Court has previously found that none of the allegations in the Crawford complaint can conceivably be read to assert that Crawford sustained injury at any time after 1978, and the Court's findings and legal reasoning have been set forth in detail in a prior Order. (See Doc. No. 193.) The Court found that none of the allegations triggered coverage under the occurrence policies that were effective years after the allegedly tortious conduct first occurred or the resulting injuries first became manifest, and accordingly granted summary judgment in favor of a number of third-party insurers who had issued occurrence-based policies to Harrisburg and/or Dauphin County providing insurance for certain periods after 1978. The Court's finding in this regard is unchanged with respect to the policies presently under consideration, and like the other third-party Defendants whose trigger motions were granted in the Court's March 31, 2005 Order, Coregis is entitled to summary judgment.

II. The Insurance Polices

A. The Coregis-Dauphin County Policies

Coregis issued several Municipal Package Policies to Dauphin County that were effective during specified periods from May 1, 1999 until June 15, 2003 (the "Coregis-Dauphin Policies") (Doc. No. 1, Exs. B, C, D and E.) The Coregis-Dauphin Policies contain the following terms and conditions:

Insuring Agreement - General Liability*fn2

a. We will pay those sums that the insured becomes legally obligated to pay as "damages" because of "bodily injury" or "property damage" caused by an "occurrence;" or "personal injury" or "advertising injury" caused by an offense as more fully described in the definitions of "personal injury" and "advertising injury." We will have the right and duty to defend the insured against any "suit" seeking such "damages." However, we will have no duty to defend the insured against any "suit" seeking "damages" because of "bodily injury," "property damage," "personal injury" or "advertising injury" to which this insurance does not apply.

c. This insurance applies to "bodily injury," "property damage," "personal injury" or "advertising injury" only if:

(1) The "bodily injury," . . . [or] "personal injury" is caused by an "occurrence" or offense that takes place in the "coverage territory;" and

(2) The "bodily injury," . . . [or] "personal injury" . . . occurs during the policy period.

(Id.) (emphasis added) The Coregis-Dauphin Policies also contain the following definitions:

10. "Occurrence" means an accident, including continuous or repeated exposure to substantially the same harmful conditions.

11. "Personal Injury" means injury, other than "bodily injury," arising out of one of more of the following offenses:

a. False arrest, detention or imprisonment;

b. Malicious prosecution;

f. False or improper service of process;

g. Discrimination on sex, age, race, ethnic background, national origin, sexual preference, handicap or disability;

h. Mental anguish, mental injury and humiliation;

i. Deprivation of rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the United States Constitution.


B. The Coregis-Harrisburg Policies

Coregis issued Municipal Package Policies to Harrisburg which were effective during specified periods between July 1, 1997 and July 1, 2001. (Doc. No. 1, Exs. F, G, H, and I.) Coregis issued a Municipalities Package insurance policy, No. 651-006592, to Harrisburg for the period July 1, 1997 to July 1, 1998. (Doc. No. 205, Ex. D.) The 1997 Harrisburg Policy excluded coverage for liability arising from law enforcement activities. (Id.) The 1997 Harrisburg Policy was renewed for the policy period from July 1, 1998 to July 1, 1999, bearing policy number 6510006596. (Doc. No. 205, Ex. E.) In January 1999, Harrisburg purchased endorsements from Coregis, one being a "Law Enforcement Prior Acts Endorsement" extending coverage for occurrences or offenses under certain circumstances dating back to July 1, 1987, and the other a Law Enforcement Liability Coverage Form for the 1998 Harrisburg Policy. In addition, Coregis issued Harrisburg umbrella insurance policies for ...

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