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INSURANCE COVERAGE: District Court grants insurer’s motion for summary judgment, holding that plaintiff’s claims fell within controlled substances exclusion

The plaintiff brought a wrongful death suit against a homeowner in 2015, alleging that the plaintiff’s fourteen-year-old daughter attended a party at the defendant’s house where heroin was available and used by the plaintiff’s decedent.  The homeowner’s insurer refused to defend or indemnify the homeowner in that suit, claiming that the incident in the complaint fell within the controlled substances exclusion of the homeowner’s policy.

The plaintiff and the homeowner entered into a stipulated judgment whereby they agreed that judgment would enter in the plaintiff’s favor in the amount of $345,000, the homeowner would pay $45,000 of the judgment, the plaintiff would release the homeowner from any liability for the remaining $300,000 and would agree to seek satisfaction of the judgment from the insurer and the homeowner would assign all of his rights under the policy to the plaintiff.

The plaintiff then filed suit against the insurer for the balance of the stipulated judgment and the insurer motioned for summary judgment, arguing that the controlled substances exclusion of the policy applied.  The plaintiff in turn argued that the complaint was amenable to interpretations that did not implicate the controlled substances exclusion and thus the insurer had a duty to defend.

The Court found that the only legally sufficient interpretation of the Complaint was that the decedent’s death was caused by her heroin use and thus the exclusion applied.

Peter Koscinski, Administrator of the Estate of Megan Koscinski v. Farm Family Casualty Insurance Company, No. 3:17-cv-472 (9/28/2018)