August 2006 Bad Faith Cases Due To The Ambiguity In The Insurance Policy, An Innocent Co-Insured Could Recover Under The Policy Of Insurance (Middle District)

In New Jersey Manufacturers Insurance Company v. Carney, the insurance company filed motions to dismiss counterclaims filed by the insured alleging violations of Pennsylvania’s Unfair Trade Practices Act and Consumer Protection Law and breach of contract.  The insurance company issued a joint policy to defendant and his wife, Mrs. Carney.  Mr. Carney’s home, which was titled in his name alone, suffered damage when Mrs. Carney set the home on fire.  The insurance company refused to process the claim based on the fact that the policy was a joint policy and Mrs. Carney caused the fire.  The court held that Mrs. Carney, who is a co-insured, is excluded from coverage by her wrongful intentional act and, therefore, barred from recovering under the policy.  However, Mr. Carney, as a result of the ambiguity in the insurance policy, can be considered an innocent co-insured and, therefore, is entitled to recover one half of the proceeds under the policy.
Date of decision:  July 26, 2006

New Jersey Mfrs. Ins. Co. v. Carney, United Stated District Court for the Middle District of PA, No. 04-02468, 2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 51445 (M.D. Pa. July 26, 2006) (Caputo, J.)