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Supreme Court of Pennsylvania
April 11, 2019, Argued; April 22, 2020, Decided
No. 20 WAP 2018
[*260] JUSTICE DOUGHERTY1
We consider whether the alleged conduct of an insured, Harold Eugene McCutcheon, Jr. (McCutcheon), as described in a personal injury lawsuit filed against his estate by Richard A. Carly (Carly), obligates McCutcheon's insurer, appellant Erie Insurance Exchange (Erie) to defend the estate against Carly's complaint. We hold Carly's allegations were sufficient to trigger Erie's duty to defend and accordingly affirm the order of the Superior Court.
The following material facts are alleged in Carly's complaint. On the evening of September 26, 2013, McCutcheon broke into the home of his ex-wife, Terry McCutcheon, in order to shoot and kill her, and then kill himself. He communicated these intentions in a note he left for his adult children. McCutcheon [**2] succeeded in executing this plan, first shooting and killing Terry and, eventually, shooting and killing himself. However, after McCutcheon killed Terry but before he killed himself, Carly arrived on the scene. Carly, who had been dating Terry, approached the front door of her home, rang the doorbell and received no answer. Carly became concerned, placed his hand on the doorknob "in order to enter and the door was suddenly pulled inward by [McCutcheon] who grabbed [Carly] by his shirt and pulled him into the home." McCutcheon was "screaming, swearing, incoherent, and acting 'crazy.'" Then, "a fight ensued between the two and at the time, [McCutcheon] continued to have the gun in his hand" which he apparently had used to kill Terry. During this "struggle" between the two men, McCutcheon was "knocking things around, and in the process [he] negligently, carelessly, and recklessly caused the weapon to be fired which struck [Carly] in the face," causing severe injuries. In addition, "other shots were carelessly, negligently and recklessly fired" by McCutcheon, "striking various parts of the interior of the residence and exiting therefrom." Carly Complaint, 2/20/2014 at ¶¶5-21.
Carly filed [**3] suit against McCutcheon's estate, and the estate — administered by McCutcheon's adult children — sought coverage of the lawsuit under two insurance policies issued by Erie to McCutcheon: the Erie Insurance Home Protector Policy (homeowner's policy) and the Erie Insurance Personal Catastrophe Liability Policy (personal catastrophe policy).
Full case includes Shepard's, Headnotes, Legal Analytics from Lex Machina, and more.
228 A.3d 258 *; 2020 Pa. LEXIS 2239 **; 2020 WL 1932642
ERIE INSURANCE EXCHANGE, Appellant v. TRACY L. MOORE AND HAROLD E. MCCUTCHEON, III, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS ADMINISTRATORS OF THE ESTATE OF HAROLD EUGENE MCCUTCHEON, JR., AND RICHARD A. CARLY, Appellees
Prior History: [**1] Appeal from the Order of the Superior Court entered November 22, 2017 at No. 869 WDA 2016, vacating the Judgment of the Court of Common Pleas of Washington County entered June 15, 2016 at No. 2014-4931 and remanding.
Erie Ins. Exch. v. Moore, 2017 PA Super 372, 175 A.3d 999, 2017 Pa. Super. LEXIS 957 (Pa. Super. Ct., Nov. 22, 2017)
insured, coverage, occurrence, allegations, duty to defend, shooting, kill, pulled, accidental, homeowner's policy, injuries, shot, gun, insurance policy, Catastrophe, recklessly, four corners, carelessly, firearm, lawsuit, intentionally, argues, fired, unexpected, fortuity, policies, damages, trigger, weapon, door
Civil Procedure, Appeals, Standards of Review, De Novo Review, Insurance Law, Liability & Performance Standards, Good Faith & Fair Dealing, Duty to Defend