East Coast CM Report of Recent Decisions – 2017 Vol. 3

October 22, 2017 / CM Reports

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Rejects “Unduly High Threshold” For Bad Faith Claims

In a case of first impression before the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, the Court in Matthew Rancosky v. Washington National Insurance Company (2017 Pa. LEXIS 2286, decided on September 28, 2017) heard arguments as to whether an insured must show that its insurance carrier acted with ill-will or a motive of self-interest to satisfy Pennsylvania’s bad faith statute. In its holding, the Court refused to adopt a standard which would place an unduly high threshold with disproportionate evidentiary burdens on insureds…

Eastern District Of New York Holds That An Unambiguous Flood Exclusion Excludes Damage From Storm Surge And A Wind Endorsement Does Not Conflict With The Flood Exclusion Or Create An Ambiguity

The Eastern District Court of New York recently held that Great Northern Insurance Company’s (“Great Northern”) Policy issued to Madelaine Chocolate Novelties (“Madelaine”) unambiguously excludes storm surge in its flood exclusion. Madelaine Chocolate Novelties v. Great N. Ins. Co., No. 15 CV 5830 (RJD) (SMG) (GRB), 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 157821 (E.D.N.Y. Sep. 26, 2017). The Court further held that the Policy’s wind endorsement is not in conflict with the Policy’s flood exclusion and does not create an ambiguity. Id. at *6. The Court’s decision adopted the Magistrate Judge’s report and recommendation. Madelaine Chocolate Novelties, Inc. v. Great N. Ins. Co., No. CV 15-5830(RJD)(SMG)(GRB), 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 103015 (E.D.N.Y. June 30, 2017).

New York Court Upholds Decision Declaring That Insurer Is Required To Provide Coverage For A Loss That Occurred During The Policy Period Which Originated Prior To Commencement Of The Policy Term

The Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of New York, First Department, recently affirmed a ruling on appeal that required the insurers to provide coverage for the loss of a power-generating turbine despite the fact that the loss originated from a crack in the rotor—which existed before the Policy took effect (pre-policy).

Too Small To Fall? The Second Department Determined That A One-Inch Gap Between Sidewalk Slabs Was A Non-Actionable Trivial Defect.

In Melia v. 50 Ct.St. Assoc., 2017 NY Slip Op 06176 (August 16, 2017), John F. Melia (“Plaintiff”), testified that on July 21, 2014, he went to a Starbucks café located at 50 Court Street in Brooklyn, New York, which he was patronizing for more than 10 years…. As he attempted to open the door, he realized that the door was heavier than expected and was opening to a maximum of forty-five degrees. Plaintiff testified that as a result he was forced to pivot to get around the malfunctioning door. He took one-two steps on the street, when his toe became trapped in a one and half inch gap between two adjacent sidewalk slabs in front of the cafe. Plaintiff alleged that due to the malfunctioned door, he focused on exiting the cafe and did not see the gap. Plaintiff contended that given the circumstances and location of the gap, it created a trap-like, dangerous condition.

Plaintiff’s Expert Did Not “See the Light”Literally

In Williamson v. Long Island University, 2017 NY Slip Op 06100 (2d Dep’t August 9, 2017), the Appellate Division, Second Department affirmed an order from the trial court granting the landlord’s motion for summary judgment. The Appellate Division held that the landlord established its prima facie entitlement to summary judgment as a matter of law by demonstrating that it did not create the condition that allegedly caused Plaintiff’s injuries, or have actual or constructive notice of it.

Slip And Fall On A Staircase: A Duty Of Care Is Not Automatically Owed To Plaintiff

Recently, the Second Department, Appellate Division found that defendants owed no duty of care to the plaintiff to maintain a staircase free of a dangerous condition, even though the staircase was identified as the location of the plaintiff’s fall. Donatien v. Long Island Coll. Hosp., 2017 NY Slip Op 06061, 57 N.Y.S.3d 422 (App. Div.) The Court found that because Plaintiff failed to successfully rebut Defendants’ prima facie showing that Defendants did not own, occupy, or control the staircase, Defendants did not owe a duty of care to Plaintiff.

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