Insurance Company Owes Coverage for Bar After Fatal Car Accident

Posted on: June 26th, 2012       Attorney Thomas Newell

An August 2011 opinion of the Superior Court of Pennsylvania was a victory for 4 families whose loved ones were killed in a crash caused by a drunk driver.  Two 22 year-old men were “celebrating” St. Patrick’s Day by getting drunk and patronizing one bar after another in Erie PA.  They got into a fight in one tavern and were ejected.

They then got into a car, the drunk driver lost control while trying to illegally pass and crashed into another motor vehicle killing 4 of its occupants.  The insurance company which insured the bar filed a lawsuit.  They requested a judicial ruling that it did not owe a duty to provide insurance coverage for the decedents’ personal injury lawsuit.

The Penn-America Insurance Company claimed that the policy’s liquor liability exclusion clause denied coverage in the case.  However, both the trial court and appeals court ruled in favor of the bar and mandated insurance coverage.  The Estates of the dead occupants claimed that the bar and its employees were negligent in throwing the 2 men out of the bar.

Police should have been called or a taxi service provided.  This negligent conduct had nothing to do with the service of alcohol to the inebriated men. Failure to call a cab or the police resulted in a drunk man getting behind the wheel of a car.  Penn-America Ins. Co. v Peccadillo Inc., 27 A.3d 259 (Pa. Super 2011).

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