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Supreme Court of Delaware
September 22, 2021, Submitted; January 10, 2022, Decided
No. 339, 2020
[*241] SEITZ, Chief Justice, for the Majority:
The question before us is whether insurance policies covering lawsuits "for" or "because of" personal injury require insurers to defend their insureds when the plaintiffs in the underlying suits expressly disavow claims for personal injury and seek only their own economic damages. The Superior Court decided that Rite Aid's insurance carriers were required to defend it against lawsuits filed by two Ohio counties to recover opioid-epidemic-related economic damages. As the court held, the lawsuits sought damages "for" or "because of" personal injury because there was arguably a causal connection between the counties' economic damages and the injuries to their citizens from the opioid epidemic.
We reverse. Three classes of plaintiffs are within the scope of the insured's personal injury coverage—the person injured, those recovering on behalf of the person injured, and people or organizations that directly cared for or treated the person injured. To recover under the insured's policy as a person or organization that directly cared for or treated the injured person, the plaintiff must [**3] prove the costs of caring for the individual's personal injury. Here the plaintiffs, governmental entities, sought to recover only their own economic damages, specifically disclaiming recovery for personal injury or any specific treatment damages. Thus, the carriers did not have a duty to defend Rite Aid under the governing insurance policy.
The appellants in this interlocutory appeal, ACE American Insurance Company, Illinois Union Insurance Company, ACE Property & Casualty Insurance Company (i/p/a ACE Property & Casualty Company), and Federal Insurance Company, are part of a group of defendants in a Superior Court insurance coverage action. Because Chubb Limited is handling the defense, we will refer to the appellants as "Chubb."1 The appellees, Rite Aid Corporation, Rite Aid Hdqtrs. Corp., and Rite Aid of Maryland, Inc., will be referred to as "Rite Aid." Rite Aid is a national drugstore company with about 2,500 stores around the country. Chubb wrote general liability insurance for Rite Aid during the time relevant to this appeal.
Rite Aid and others are defendants in multi-district litigation before the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio (the "MDL Opioid [**4] Lawsuits").2 Plaintiffs have filed over a thousand suits in the MDL Opioid Lawsuits against companies in the pharmaceutical supply chain for their roles in the national opioid crisis. Certain suits are bellwether suits—including the complaints of Summit and Cuyahoga Counties in Ohio ("the Counties") which are at issue here. The Counties' cases are called the "Track One Lawsuits."3 Those lawsuits:
Full case includes Shepard's, Headnotes, Legal Analytics from Lex Machina, and more.
270 A.3d 239 *; 2022 Del. LEXIS 9 **; 2022 WL 90652
ACE AMERICAN INSURANCE COMPANY, ILLINOIS UNION INSURANCE COMPANY, ACE PROPERTY & CASUALTY COMPANY, and FEDERAL INSURANCE COMPANY Defendants Below, Appellants, v. RITE AID CORPORATION, RITE AID HDQTRS. CORPORATION, and RITE AID OF MARYLAND, INC. d/b/a MID-ATLANTIC CUSTOMER SUPPORT CENTER, Plaintiffs Below, Appellees.
Subsequent History: Case Closed January 26, 2022.
Prior History: [**1] Court Below: Superior Court of the State of Delaware. C.A. No. N19C-04-150.
Rite Aid Corp. v. ACE Am. Ins. Co., 2020 Del. Super. LEXIS 2797 (Del. Super. Ct., Sept. 22, 2020)
Disposition: Upon appeal from the Superior Court of the State of Delaware: REVERSED.
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