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Insurance Coverage: Court denies insurer’s motion for summary judgment pursuant to animal injury exclusion in CGL policy

The defendant, Mancini Realty, LLC, sought coverage under its policy with the plaintiff, Diamond State Insurance, for the underlying lawsuit against it. Diamond State Insurance Company filed a motion for summary judgment based upon a claimed lack of coverage pursuant to an animal liability exclusion. The underlying suit alleges that the underlying plaintiff was lawfully on defendant Mancini Realty’s premises when he was attacked and/or bitten by a dog, and/or dogs, which resulted in injuries, losses, and damages.

The owner of the dogs is allegedly a tenant of the defendant and said dogs allegedly have a history of attacking and/or biting. Diamond State’s policy with the defendant contains the following exclusion: “ANIMAL LIABILITY EXCLUSION: this insurance does not apply to ‘bodily injury,’ ‘property damage,’ ‘personal and advertising injury,’ or medical payments involving any animal or breed of dog, listed below, that is owned by, or in the care, custody, or control of the insured or a tenant. Animal: a) Any animal with a prior bite history…” The court finds that the defendant’s position in its objection to the motion for summary judgment lists several areas which clearly generate genuine issues of material fact regarding the number of dogs involved, the owner of the dogs, and whether the same dogs were involved in both the underlying attack and the prior alleged attacks.

The court states that there is simply no evidence that the dogs are the same, other than claimed common ownership, which is only alleged but not proven. The court also explains that the police report from the previous incident does not actually state that the dogs in question “bit” anyone, it only states that there was an “attack” and that one of the dogs required stitches. A layperson can guess that if the injured dog required stitches, one or more bites were involved, but the court states that a layperson is not able to guess how the injuries to the dog occurred.

Finally, the court holds that in order for Diamond State to succeed on its motion for summary judgment, it must satisfy the test outlined by the Supreme Court, namely, “whether the moving party would be entitled to a directed verdict on the same facts….” The court finds that Diamond State has failed this test as it has not shown that the exclusion claimed is applicable to the underlying incident and is thus not entitled to judgment as a matter of law. For these reasons, the court denies the plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment. Diamond State Ins. Co. v. Mancini Realty, LLC, No. UWY-CV22-6066913-S, 2023 WL 3317085 (Conn. Super. Ct. May 2, 2023).