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Superior Court of Pennsylvania
November 30, 2022, Decided; November 30, 2022, Filed
No. 490 WDA 2021, No. 948 WDA 2021
OPINION BY PANELLA, P.J.:
Like so many other businesses, the dental practice of Timothy Ungarean, DMD, d/b/a Smile Savers Dentistry, PC ("Ungarean") suffered significant losses when business was disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Ungarean sought coverage for those losses under the business interruption provisions of the business insurance policy he had bought from CNA and Valley Forge Insurance Company ("CNA") ("CNA Policy"). After CNA denied his claim, Ungarean filed a complaint seeking a declaration under the Declaratory Judgments Act, 42 Pa.C.S.A. §§ 7531-7541, that the CNA Policy covered his loss. Ungarean followed that complaint with a motion for summary judgment, which the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas granted. The court declared Ungarean was entitled to business [*2] interruption coverage because COVID-19 and the related governmental orders had caused Ungarean to suffer a direct physical loss of his dental practice, which was within the ambit of coverage provided by the CNA Policy. Moreover, the court found that the exclusions CNA tried to invoke to deny coverage were not applicable to Ungarean's claim.
We are in full agreement with the court's conclusions. We are also in full agreement with the court's reasoning in support of those conclusions. Therefore, based primarily on the trial court's thoughtful opinion, we affirm the court's order granting summary judgment and declaring that coverage is owed to Ungarean for his COVID-related business losses under the specific terms of the CNA Policy.1
The bulk of the factual background leading to this appeal is uncontroverted. Ungarean owns and operates a dental practice, with an office in Pittsburgh and an office in Aliquippa. The practice of dentistry necessarily requires close contact not only between the dentist and his patients, but also between the patients and various staff at the office.
To protect himself from unforeseen interruptions of his practice, Ungarean procured an insurance policy from CNA [*3] that provided coverage for certain losses associated with the dental practice during the year from April 1, 2019, to April 1, 2020. In March 2020, the state of Pennsylvania was struck by the full force of the COVID-19 pandemic. COVID-19 is a novel contagious virus that can cause severe acute respiratory illness. In the first three months of the pandemic, it killed thousands of Pennsylvanians, and over 100,000 people nationwide.
Full case includes Shepard's, Headnotes, Legal Analytics from Lex Machina, and more.
2022 Pa. Super. LEXIS 467 *; 2022 PA Super 204; 2022 WL 17334365
TIMOTHY A. UNGAREAN, DMD D/B/A SMILE SAVERS DENTISTRY, PC, INDIVIDUALLY AND ON BEHALF OF A CLASS OF SIMILARLY SITUATED PERSONS v. CNA AND VALLEY FORGE INSURANCE COMPANY, Appellants
Prior History: [*1] Appeal from the Order Entered March 26, 2021. In the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Civil Division at No(s): GD-20-006544.
Appeal from the Order Entered March 26, 2021. In the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Civil Division at No(s): GD-20-006544.
Ungarean v. CNA, 2021 Pa. Dist. & Cnty. Dec. LEXIS 2 (Mar. 22, 2021)
physical loss, coverage, extra expense, trial court, restoration, cause of loss, insured, provisions, property damage, ambiguity, repair, terms, dental practice, described premises, replace, civil authority, contamination, suspension, pandemic, trial court's opinion, economic loss, loss of use, losses, orders, insurance policy, Ordinance, premises, courts, words, consequential loss
Civil Procedure, Summary Judgment, Appellate Review, Appealability, Appeals, Appellate Jurisdiction, Collateral Order Doctrine, Final Judgment Rule, Declaratory Judgments, State Declaratory Judgments, Scope of Declaratory Judgments, Standards of Review, Abuse of Discretion, Appellate Review, Discretionary Jurisdiction, Uniform Declaratory Judgment Act, Insurance Law, Claim, Contract & Practice Issues, Policy Interpretation, Entire Contract, Contracts Law, Contract Interpretation, Intent, Ambiguous Terms, Unambiguous Terms, Governments, Legislation, Interpretation, Procedure, Evidence & Trial, Burdens of Proof, Commercial General Liability Insurance, Exclusions, Claims Made Policies, Exclusions, Coverage Favored, Question of Law, Reasonable Expectations, Reasonable Person, Evidence, Burdens of Proof, Allocation, Ordinary & Usual Meanings, Technical Constructions & Meanings