McCarter & English on Vigilant Insurance Co. v. Sibbio: Insurer Had Duty to Defend Based on Reasonable Possibility of Coverage

   By Lauren E. Ciancia, Associate, McCarter & English, LLP

In Vigilant Insurance Co. v. Sibbio, 2012 N.Y. Misc. Lexis 4868 (N.Y. Sup. Ct. Oct. 9, 2012), the New York Supreme Court held an insurance company has a duty to defend its policyholder for underlying allegations concerning the lead-paint poisoning of a tenant.  Notably, the disputed policy defined an "occurrence" as "an accident to which this insurance applies and which begins within the policy period.  Continuous or repeated exposure to substantially the same general conditions unless excluded is considered to be one occurrence."  Although the insured-landlord and insurer presented conflicting evidence concerning whether the alleged "occurrence" commenced prior to or during the policy period, the court found the insured presented sufficient evidence that "a reasonable possibility of coverage exist[ed]" and, therefore, the insurer's renewed summary judgment motion was denied by the court.

Ms. Ciancia is an associate in the Insurance Coverage Group of McCarter & English, LLP. The opinions in this article are those of the author alone and do not represent the views of McCarter & English, LLP or any of its clients.

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