Morrison Mahoney Partner Bill Schneider was quoted extensively in this week’s issue of Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly. The article involved a wrongful death case where a Superior Court judge held that a liability insurer was in breach of its duty to defend.
Medmarc Casualty Insurance Co. v. Harvard Bioscience, at al., involved a dispute over coverage under a Life Sciences Products Completed Operations policy for the wrongful death of person injured as the result of synthetic trachea created with the defendants’ technology. The declaratory judgment action followed the insurer’s unilateral termination of the insured’s defense. Although the policy and underlying issues were novel, the court relied on well-established principles of contract interpretation and equity to find certain policy provisions ambiguous. As a consequence, the court found a duty to defend and the insurer’s unilateral action improper.
Bill said that the facts in the case were unique in the sense that it was not a standard-type coverage, like homeowners or general liability. He states that “the court observed there were competing interpretations of the policy language, and that the insured had offered an alternative, broader reading of the endorsement the court felt was more consistent with other provisions in the policy. This led the court to reject Medmarc’s reading of the policy on the grounds that it was too restrictive.”
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