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Westfield Insurance Company v. Lucio Granese

February 4, 2011


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


Schiller, J. February 4, 2011

On July 2, 2008, Lucio Granese assaulted his neighbor, Anthony Genuardi, causing Genuardi serious injuries. Granese pled guilty to simple assault in July of 2009. Genuardi and his wife, Nella, subsequently sued Granese for assault and battery in the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas. Granese tendered his defense to his insurance provider, Plaintiff Westfield Insurance Company ("Westfield"). Westfield seeks a declaratory judgment that it has no obligation to defend or indemnify Granese in connection with the state-court lawsuit. Currently before the Court is Westfield's Motion for Summary Judgment. The motion is granted for the reasons that follow.


A. Granese's Assault on Genuardi

Mr. Genuardi and Granese, next-door neighbors, have a history of "bad blood." (Pl's Mot. for Summ. J. Ex. E [Genuardi Dep.] 48-59.) On the afternoon of July 2, 2008, Genuardi had just returned from a shopping trip with his wife when he spotted Granese getting out of his vehicle. (Id. at 64-65). After the men exchanged words, Granese charged Genuardi "like a mad man." (Id. at 65.) Granese hit Genuardi in the head twice. (Id. at 65-69, 73-77.) With the first blow, Granese "knocked [Genuardi's] glasses off" and Genuardi fell down. (Id. at 77.) The second blow left Genuardi blind in his left eye. (Id. at 32.)

Granese was arrested and charged with aggravated assault, simple assault, and recklessly endangering another person. (Pl's Mot. for Summ. J. Ex. F [Criminal Compl. dated July 16, 2008].) On April 17, 2009, Granese pled guilty to the first count of simple assault and was subsequently sentenced to eighteen to twenty-four months' imprisonment. (Id. Exs. G [Guilty Plea Agreement], H [Sentencing Tr.].) At the sentencing hearing, Genuardi described the July 2, 2008 incident:

The first time he hit me, I fell down. And there is a fence where I fell, and I grabbed on to the fence and picked myself up. In the meantime, my wife came out, and she heard him hollering. She said what's going on out here. And then she said to me, where's your glasses . . . . I turned my head to answer him. I said, I don't know. And he hit me the second time. I fell down and started to get up. My wife said, don't get up. Part of your eye is coming out. I just laid there until the guys with the ambulance came. (Sentencing Tr. 6-7.)

B. The Underlying Genuardi Litigation

In June of 2009, the Genuardis filed a lawsuit against Granese in the Montgomery County Court of Common Pleas. (Pl's Mot. for Summ. J. Ex. D [Civil Compl.].) The Complaint alleges that on July 2, 2008, Granese struck Genuardi on the head without provocation. (Id. ¶¶ 3-5.) The Complaint recounts that "Anthony Genuardi has been caused to suffer serious injuries, including abrasions, contusions, shock to his nervous system, scarring, and disfigurement." (Id. ¶6.) Nella Genuardi alleges that she has incurred substantial expenses to take care of Anthony, and "has been deprived of the society, companionship, assistance, and consortium of her husband." (Id. ¶¶11-13.)

The Civil Cover Sheet attached to the complaint indicates that the case is an "intentional tort" with the subcategory of "assault/battery." (Pl's Mot. for Summ. J. Ex. D [Civil Cover Sheet].)

C. The Westfield Insurance Policy

Westfield issued a homeowner's insurance policy to Lucio and Barbara Granese, with a policy period from April 13, 2008 to April 13, 2009. (Id. Ex. J [Homeowner's Policy Declaration Page].) The policy's personal liability section provides:

If a claim is made or a suit is brought against an insured for damages because of bodily injury or property damage caused by occurrence to which this coverage applies, we will: (1) Pay up to our limit of liabilty for the damages for which the insured is legally liable . . . and; (2) Provide a defense at our expense . . . even if the suit is groundless, false, or fraudulent. (Id. Ex. K [Insurance Policy] 18.) The policy defines "occurrence" as "an accident, including continuous or repeated exposure to substantially the same general harmful conditions, which results, during the policy period, in: (a) bodily injury; or (b) property damage." (Id. at 2.) "Bodily injury" is further defined as "bodily harm, sickness or disease, including required care, loss of services, and death or results." (Id. at 1.) The policy excludes "Expected or Intended Injure[ies]," defined as: "bodily injury or property damage which is expected or intended by an ...

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