City of New Haven v. Insurance Company of the State of Pennsylvania
A court must construe "the intent of the parties as expressed by the language of the policy . . . [including] what coverage the . . . [insured] expected to receive and what the [insurer] was to provide," pursuant to the Connecticut Supreme Court's 2001 decision, QSP Inc. v. Aetna Casualty and Surety Co. In 2008, New Haven Police Officer Dario Aponte and Officer Diane Gonzalez responded to the same emergency and collided at an intersection. Aponte died, and Gonzalez was injured. Aponte's estate and Gonzalez's conservators sued. The City of New Haven was self-insured up to the amount of $1 million and had excess liability insurance, for losses greater than $1 million, with the defendant insurer. A fellow employee exclusion provided that the insurer "will not defend or pay under this Policy for claims or suits against you . . . [a]rising out of the liability of your employees for bodily injury to another of your employee(s) injured in the course of his or her employment." The insurer denied coverage because of the fellow employee exclusion. The city sued, alleging the exclusion breached the parties' contract and violated public policy. A policy term is ambiguous if susceptible to two equally reasonable interpretations. The city did not plead or produce evidence that produced a factual basis for a right of subrogation or that the city received any assignment of rights from the Aponte estate or Gonzalez. The city could not assert coverage claims on behalf of the estate and Gonzalez. It was not disputed that Aponte and Gonzalez were city employees who were injured in the course of employment. The city's self-insurance of up to $1 million met public policy interests of furnishing insurance to public employees. The fellow employee exclusion was valid. Its presence reinforced the conclusion that the parties unambiguously agreed the insurer would not be responsible, if city workers collided with one another when working. There was no legal or factual basis to reform the policy, to delete the fellow employee exclusion. The fellow employee provision barred coverage, and the court granted summary judgment to the insurer.