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Second Circuit Holds Insurance Companies Had Duty to Defend in Wrongful Death Lawsuit

Second circuit reverses decision in coverage dispute over construction site fatality

A lawsuit from 2014 alleges that Hellman Electric Corporation, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, and the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority negligently caused the death of Nicholas Cavataio when a 2,700-pound battery struck him at a construction site. Cavataio was an employee of Hellman at the time of the accident. The district court originally held that neither Harleysville Preferred Insurance Company nor The Travelers Indemnity Company and Travelers Property Casualty Company of America had a duty to defend under their respective policies.

In April 2018, the Second Circuit reversed this decision in part. Harleysville and Travelers argued that the mechanical device exclusion in the policies precluded them from having to defend because the language indicated that bodily injury was not subject to their policy “unless the device attached to the covered auto.” The Second Circuit reasoned that the mechanical device exclusion did not apply here because the accident “resulted from the ownership, maintenance or use of a covered auto.” The Second Circuit held that Harleysville had a duty to defend Hellman, Metropolitan, and Triborough.

They also held that Travelers had a duty to defend Metropolitan and Triborough. They did not hold that Travelers had a duty to defend Hellman because Cavataio was working as an employee of Hellman and there was an employer liability exclusion clause contained within the Travelers’ policy with Hellman.

If you have any questions regarding this case or need legal assistance, contact the experienced attorneys of Parker, LLP Attorneys at Law today.

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