THE INJURED PARTY WAS STRUCK WITH A BATON IN AN ALTERCATION OUTSIDE A BAR; IT WAS ALLEGED THE INJURY WAS ACCIDENTAL; THE INSURER SOUGHT A DECLARATORY JUDGMENT RE: THE OBLIGATION TO DEFEND AND INDEMNIFY; THERE WERE QUESTIONS OF FACT WHETHER THE INCIDENT FELL OUTSIDE THE COVERAGE OF THE POLICY (NO DISCLAIMER REQUIRED) OR WHETHER THE INCIDENT WAS SUBJECT TO A POLICY EXCLUSION (TIMELY DISCLAIMER REQUIRED) (SECOND DEPT).
The Second Department, reversing Supreme Court, determined there were questions of fact whether the disclaimer by the insurer, Mapfre, was required and/or timely in this personal injury case. In the midst of some sort of altercation outside a bar, Groskopf was struck with a baton by Edward Ferrall. Edward Ferrall claimed he did not intend to strike Groskopf. The two questions before the court in this declaratory judgment action were (1) whether the injury was the result of an “occurrence” (accident) within the coverage terms of the policy, and (2) whether the injury was intended and therefore subject to a policy exclusion. If the claim falls outside the coverage terms no disclaimer is required. If the claim is subject to an exclusion from coverage, a timely disclaimer is required:
… Groskopf and the Ferrall defendants failed to establish, prima facie, their respective entitlement to judgment as a matter of law on whether an “occurrence” was involved giving rise to policy coverage and, if so, whether such occurrence fell within the “expected or intended” injury policy exclusion. * * *
… [D]efendants also failed to demonstrate their respective prima facie entitlement to judgment as a matter of law based upon Mapfre’s alleged untimely disclaimer. * * * [G]iven that there are triable issues of fact regarding whether the claim falls within the coverage, [the] defendants failed to establish, prima facie, that a timely disclaimer was required. Mapfre Ins. Co. of N.Y. v Ferrall, 2023 NY Slip Op 01082, Second Dept 3-1-23
Practice Point: Here there was an altercation outside a bar and the injured party was struck with a baton. It was alleged the injury was accidental and the insurer sought a declaratory judgment on its obligation to defend and indemnify. There were questions of fact whether the incident fell within the coverage terms (if so, no disclaimer was required) and whether the incident was subject to an exclusion from coverage (if so, a timely disclaimer was required).
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