Connecticut Insurance Guaranty Association v. Drown
The last antecedent rule provides that qualifying phrases, absent a contrary intention, refer solely to the last antecedent in a sentence. Susan and Rodney Drown, individually and on behalf of their minor child, Joshua Drown, filed this medical malpractice action against Associated Women's Health Specialists P.C. and two physicians, Frances Bourget and Richard Holden. The Drowns alleged that Health Specialists was liable vicariously for the physicians' alleged malpractice. Health Specialists was insured though a professional liability insurance policy issued by Medical Inter-Insurance Exchange which ultimately denied coverage of the claims asserting that exclusion (i) of the policy applied. This provision excluded coverage for the insured "corporation/partnership under Coverage Agreement B with respect to injury arising solely out of acts or omissions in the rendering or failure to render professional services by individual physicians or nurse anesthetists, or by any paramedical for whom a premium charge is shown on the declarations page." Medical Inter-Insurance Exchange declared insolvency. The Connecticut Insurance Guaranty Association, obligated to pay certain "covered claims," brought a declaratory judgment action and filed a motion for summary judgment. The trial court denied the association's motion and granted summary judgment to the Drowns. The association appealed arguing that the court improperly concluded that exclusion (i) did not apply. The Appellate Court reversed the judgment. The trial court improperly determined that the phrase "for whom a premium charge is shown on the declarations page" in exclusion (i) modified the phrase "individual physicians." The trial court concluded that because Bourget's name did not appear on the declarations page, exclusion (i) did not apply to the underlying claims. Applying the last antecedent rule, the Appellate Court found that the phrase "for whom a premium charge is shown on the declarations page" is not grammatically or logically separated from the last antecedent phrase "any paramedical." The phrase was interpreted to apply only to the last antecedent, "any paramedical" and not to individual physicians. There was no genuine issue of material fact that exclusion (i) applied in this case. Additionally, the trial court improperly determined that there was no genuine issue of material fact that the word "solely" in exclusion (i) rendered the policy ambiguous. Coverage was not illusory as the defendants claimed.