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New York Appellate Court Decides Whether Defendant Insurance Company is Required to Defend Plaintiffs


Nancy Bianco et al are the appellants in this case. They are represented by the law offices of Gibbons & Burke from Scotia. The counsel for the appellants is J. William Burke. The respondent in this matter is Travelers Insurance Company. The respondent is represented by the law offices of Carusone, Toomey, and Carusone, from Saratoga Springs. The counsel for the respondent is David A. Harper.

This is an appeal case regarding an order issued by the Special Term of the Supreme Court. The original order made by the Supreme Court granted a motion for summary judgment to the defendant. This judgment dismissed the complaint made against them.

This issue for this appeal is whether or not the defendant insurance company is responsible for defending the plaintiffs in the action that is against them on behalf of a child that was bitten by a dog that the plaintiffs owned.

Case Background

The plaintiffs are a mother and daughter and the owners of the dog in question. Sometime in January of 1977, the dog bit a child that was visiting the home where the plaintiffs lived. The insurance policy of the defendants is a homeowner’s insurance policy and the plaintiffs are claiming coverage underneath this policy. The home insurance policy covers the home of the plaintiff and her ex husband. The couple was divorced in July of 1975. The plaintiffs lived in the insured home in question until October of 1975. They then moved to a mobile home and then to the home where the incident took place.

The plaintiffs state that since the mother plaintiff was named on the insurance policy when the dog bite occurred that the insurance company must provide coverage for her. The plaintiff states that the coverage from the policy is provided under the personal liability section of the policy that covers bodily injury that is sustained on the insured premises where the injury is caused by an animal that is owned by the person insured.

The defendant states that the exclusion for bodily injury that arises out of any omission or act that is in connection of the premises other than the premises that is insured is applicable.

Court Discussion and Decision

In this particular case the dog bite happened on a premise that was not insured by the policy at the time of the incident. The particular policy in question for this case only covers the one property where the plaintiff used to reside with her husband.

The infant that was injured was visiting the home of the plaintiff when the accident occurred. The plaintiffs feel that because the injury was caused by an animal, there is no further questions regarding the case and the insurance policy should cover the damages.

However, it is quite clear that the policy only provides coverage for the home that it was acquired to cover. This does not include any property where the plaintiff resides, even if her name remains on the policy. For this reason, the court rules that the previous judgment made by the Supreme Court is correct. The appeal in this case is denied and the original order and judgment is affirmed.

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