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Schultz v. Hartford Fire Ins. Co.

Supreme Court of Connecticut

February 13, 1990

Jane Crilly SCHULTZ, Administratrix (ESTATE OF Andrew G. SCHULTZ)
v.
HARTFORD FIRE INSURANCE COMPANY et al.

Argued Nov. 2, 1989.

Page 1132

Leo Gold, Stamford, for appellant (plaintiff).

Paul E. Pollock, with whom, on the brief, was Thomas P. Parrino, Bridgeport, for appellee (defendant Hartford Acc. and Indem. Co.).

Before ARTHUR H. HEALEY, SHEA, GLASS, COVELLO and HULL, JJ.

[213 Conn. 697] ARTHUR H. HEALEY, Associate Justice.

The principal issue in this case is whether an endorsement to an owners', landlords' and tenants' liability insurance policy amends or adds to the policy provisions defining insured premises. The trial court, Ryan, J., found the definition of insured premises in the endorsement controlling and interpreted the provision so as to deny the plaintiff relief under the insurance policy. From this judgment, the plaintiff appealed to the Appellate Court. Pursuant to Practice Book § 4023, we transferred the case to this court. We find no error.

The parties stipulated to the following facts. On August 15, 1978, Phyllis G. Olschan transferred title and delivered possession of the premises known as 416 Erskine Road, Stamford (Stamford property), to the plaintiff and her husband. On September 4, 1978, the plaintiff's decedent, Andrew G. Schultz, eight years of age, was severely injured as a result of the detonation of a hand grenade that had been left on the premises. Andrew G. Schultz died about three weeks later as a result of these injuries. The plaintiff was appointed administratrix of the estate of Andrew G. Schultz and instituted an action against Olschan to recover for the bodily injuries suffered by Andrew G. Schultz and his subsequent wrongful death by reason of the negligence of Olschan. On March 13, 1985, the plaintiff obtained a judgment against Olschan in the amount of $100,000 in damages. Olschan, however, failed to pay any part of that judgment.

The plaintiff thereafter brought an action, pursuant to General Statutes § 38-175, [1] in two counts against [213 Conn. 698] the

Page 1133

Hartford Fire Insurance Company and the Hartford Accident and Indemnity Company to collect the unpaid judgment. In count one of the complaint, the plaintiff alleged, inter alia, that Olschan had in effect on the day of the accident a liability insurance policy, number 31 RA 607453, issued by the Hartford Fire Insurance Company. In count two, the plaintiff alleged that Olschan had in effect on the day of the accident an insurance policy, number 31 OLT 195229, issued by the Hartford Accident and Indemnity Company. [2] The defendants denied these allegations and pleaded, by way of special defenses as to count one, that policy number 31 RA 607453 was cancelled prior to the accident involving Andrew Schultz. As to the second count, it denied that policy number 31 OLT 195229 extended coverage to the Stamford property as "insured premises." As to both counts, they denied that they had in effect a policy covering the Stamford property on the day of the accident. Prior to trial, however, the parties[213 Conn. 699] stipulated that the only policy in effect at the time of the accident was policy number 31 OLT 195229 issued by the Hartford Accident and Indemnity Company.

No evidence was presented to the trial court. The trial court held that endorsement L-3038-2 to the policy defining the insured premises designated 1141 Fairfield Beach Road, Fairfield (Fairfield beach property), as the insured premises and not the Stamford property. The trial court stated that the parties' true intentions to insure only the Fairfield beach property were evident. The trial court found that the endorsement listed a one family dwelling as the "designated premises," and that that endorsement applied only to the Fairfield beach property. Moreover, the trial court stated that "[a]n interpretation that the alienated premises clause encompasses all premises ever alienated by [Olschan] individually, or by Lillian Goldman individually, or by both [Olschan] and Lillian Goldman jointly, would be [an] unreasonable interpretation of [the alienated premises] clause." The court concluded that the policy covered only the Fairfield beach property.

On appeal, the plaintiff contends that the trial court erred in concluding that (1) the defendant's policy did not extend coverage to the Stamford premises recently alienated by its insured; and (2) notwithstanding the designation of "alienated premises" as "insured premises" within the defendant's policy, it would be unreasonable to provide such coverage. Because we find that the endorsement amends the provision defining insured premises in the policy, we do not need to decide the plaintiff's second claim of error.

At the time of Andrew G. Schultz's accident, Olschan and Goldman, as named insureds, had in effect an insurance policy entitled "Owners', Landlords' and Tenants' [213 Conn. 700] Liability Insurance." The focus of the plaintiff's claim is on the "Additional Definition" provision in the policy and the endorsement that both contain a definition of "insured premises." The policy when issued provided, inter alia, the following:

"IV. ADDITIONAL DEFINITION

"When used in reference to this insurance (including endorsements forming a part of the policy): " 'insured premises ' means (1) the premises designated in the declarations, (2) premises alienated by the named insured (other than premises constructed for sale by the named insured ), if possession has been relinquished to others, and (3) premises as to which the named insured acquires ownership or control

Page 1134

and reports his intention to insure such premises under this policy and no other within 30 days after such acquisition; and includes the ways ...


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