New London County Mutual Insurance Co. v. Zachem
"In the determination whether a loss is within an exception in a policy, where there is a concurrence of two causes, the efficient cause--the one that sets the other in motion--is the cause to which the loss is to be attributed," pursuant to Sansone v. Nationwide Mutual Fire Insurance Co., a 1999 decision of the Connecticut Superior Court. Allegedly, an intruder at the defendants' property purposely broke a propane copper pipe, in order to steal copper piping, and there was an explosion. The plaintiff insurance company requested a declaratory judgment indicating that the plaintiff is not responsible for the fire damages that took place at the premises on or about September 2008. The plaintiff maintained that the property had been vacant and that an exclusion for vandalism applied. The defendants objected that the property was not vacant, because an individual who performed maintenance work regularly visited the property, although no one has resided at the premises since July 2007. The policy provided, "[W]e do not insure loss . . . caused by . . . vandalism and malicious mischief, theft or attempted theft if the dwelling has been vacant for more than 30 consecutive days immediately before the loss." The court found that plaintiff insurance company proved that the defendants' property was vacant more than 30 days and that the exclusion for vandalism applied. The defendants also argued that the court should apply an exception for "ensuing loss" to the vandalism exclusion. An ensuing loss takes place when there is a peril, that causes a loss or injury, separate and independent and resulting from the original excluded peril, and the ensuing peril is not an excluded one. A fire investigator concluded that the fire and explosion were a direct result of the intentional removal of the propane copper pipe. The court found that the removal of the copper pipe constituted the cause to which the loss could be attributed, although a spark from a water heater that followed might have led to the explosion. The defendants failed to prove that the exception for an "ensuing loss" applied. The court granted the plaintiff's motion for summary judgment, because the plaintiff is not responsible as a result of the vandalism exclusion.