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Good v. Frankie & Eddie's Hanover Inn, LLP

Superior Court of Pennsylvania

September 21, 2017

FLORENCE A. GOOD, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS EXECUTRIX OF THE ESTATE OF BARRY D. GOOD, DECEASED, Appellant
v.
FRANKIE & EDDIE'S HANOVER INN, LLP RCA INSURANCE GROUP ON BEHALF OF STATE NATIONAL INSURANCE COMPANY

         Appeal from the Order entered November 15, 2016 in the Court of Common Pleas of Berks County, Civil Division, No(s): 13-15184

          BEFORE: MOULTON, SOLANO and MUSMANNO, JJ.

          OPINION

          MUSMANNO, J.

         Florence A. Good ("Good"), individually and as executrix of the Estate of Barry D. Good, deceased ("the Estate"), appeals from the Order denying Good's Motion for Summary Judgment in a declaratory judgment action against Frankie & Eddie's Hanover Inn, LLP ("Hanover Inn"), and RCA Insurance Group ("RCA"), on behalf of State National Insurance Company, and denying as moot RCA's Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment.[1] We affirm.

         On April 4, 2012, at approximately 10:56 p.m., Barry D. Good ("the Deceased") was fatally injured when a Ford F250, driven by Francis Lynch ("Lynch"), collided with the Deceased's Kawasaki Vulcan Motorcycle. At the time of the accident, Lynch was driving under the influence of alcohol, which had been served to him at Hanover Inn.[2]

         On the date of the accident, Hanover Inn was covered by a commercial insurance policy ("the Policy") issued by RCA. The Policy includes a Liquor Liability Coverage Form, [3] which provides for liquor liability coverage with an "Aggregate Limit, " as well as an "Each Common Cause Limit."[4] The Declarations page of the Policy specifies that the liquor liability coverage limit for "Each Occurrence" is $500, 000, and the "Aggregate" limit is $1, 000, 000.

         During the pendency of the wrongful death and survival action, a dispute arose regarding the applicable amount of coverage under the Policy. The parties entered into a settlement agreement for the underlying action, whereby RCA agreed to pay the undisputed amount of $500, 000 on behalf of Hanover Inn. The parties also agreed that a court of competent jurisdiction would resolve the dispute pertaining to the remaining $500, 000. An additional $15, 000 was paid by Safe Auto Insurance Company, on behalf of Lynch, for bodily injury.

         On June 17, 2013, Good filed a Complaint, seeking relief in the nature of a declaratory judgment that the applicable liability limit is the $1, 000, 000 "Aggregate Limit, " resulting in an additional payment of $500, 000.

         On July 23, 2013, RCA filed an Answer and Counterclaim for Declaratory Relief, asserting that the applicable liability limit is the $500, 000 "Each Occurrence Limit."

         Good filed a Motion for Summary Judgment on August 22, 2016, alleging that there were no genuine issues of material fact in dispute. RCA filed a Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment on September 19, 2016, asserting that the Policy unambiguously provides for a lower "Each Common Cause Limit, " and a higher "Aggregate Limit." By Order dated November 15, 2016, [5] the trial court denied Good's Motion for Summary Judgment, denied as moot RCA's Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment, and determined that the lower "Each Occurrence/Each Common Cause Limit" is applicable, rather than the higher "Aggregate Limit."

         Good filed a timely Notice of Appeal and a court-ordered Pa.R.A.P. 1925(b) Concise Statement of errors complained of on appeal.

On appeal, Good raises the following issues for our review:
A. Whether the trial court erred in determining that the liquor liability coverage available to [Good] is in the amount of $500, 000 [, ] where the [L]iquor [L]iability [C]overage [F]orm does not contain the term "occurrence[, ]" and where[, ] as delineated in the [L]iquor [L]iability [C]overage [F]orm[, ] $1, 000, 000[] in liquor liability coverage was available to [Good, ] given the clear and unambiguous language contained in the [L]iquor [L]iability [C]overage [F]orm[?]
B. In the alternative, whether the trial court erred in determining the term "occurrence" was unambiguous in the absence of a definition for that ...

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