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Tapas: Small Dishes of Insurance Coverage News & Notes
A Wisconsin appeals court held in Szerbowski v. Trinka, No. 2014AP2493 (Wis. Ct. App. July 21, 2015), [subscribers can access an enhanced version of this opinion: lexis.com | Lexis Advance], that no coverage was owed under a homeowner’s policy because bodily injury was not caused by an “occurrence.” The entire case can be described this way: “Puerling’s act of entrusting a handgun to a volatile felon with a known history of drinking problems and a tendency to become belligerent when intoxicated created the means or cause of harm. Szerbowski testified at her deposition that Trinka ‘pretty much’ ‘drank every day.’ Trinka testified that on the day of the shooting, ‘my blood alcohol was, I think, .143, Steve’s was .200, Connie's was .095....’ Trinka’s anger management issues were also uncontroverted, and the record reveals a strained, aggravated relationship between Trinka and Steven. Trinka testified the two were ‘no stranger[s] to arguments prior to this incident,’ and that they were like ‘oil and water’ from ‘day one when I first met him.’ Under these circumstances, giving a handgun to Trinka put in place the conditions for a tragic accident, and bodily injury was hardly unforeseeable. The circuit court correctly determined that Puerling’s act of entrusting the gun to Trinka did not qualify as an accidental occurrence under State Auto’s policy.”
Coverage Opinions is a bi-weekly (or more frequently) electronic newsletter reporting or providing commentary on just-issued decisions from courts nationally addressing insurance coverage disputes. Coverage Opinions focuses on decisions that concern numerous issues under commercial general liability and professional liability insurance policies. For more information visit www.coverageopinions.info.
The views expressed herein are solely those of the author and not necessarily those of his firm or its clients. The information contained herein shall not be considered legal advice. You are advised to consult with an attorney concerning how any of the issues addressed herein may apply to your own situation. Coverage Opinions is gluten free but may contain peanut products.
Randy Maniloff is Counsel at White and Williams, LLP in Philadelphia. He previously served as a firm Partner for seven years and transitioned to a Counsel position to pursue certain writing projects including Coverage Opinions . Nonetheless he still maintains a full-time practice at the firm. Randy concentrates his practice in the representation of insurers in coverage disputes over primary and excess obligations under a host of policies, including commercial general liability and various professional liability policies, such as public official’s, law enforcement, educator’s, media, computer technology, architects and engineers, lawyers, real estate agents, community associations, environmental contractors, Indian tribes and several others. Randy has significant experience in coverage for environmental damage and toxic torts, liquor liability and construction defect, including additional insured and contractual indemnity issues. Randy is co-author of “General Liability Insurance Coverage - Key Issues In Every State” (Oxford University Press, 2nd Edition, 2012). For the past twelve years Randy has published a year-end article that addresses the ten most significant insurance coverage decisions of the year completed.
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