Appellate Division Affirms Decision for Client Harleysville Based on “Care, Custody, Control” Exclusion
Riker Danzig prevailed in the Appellate Division for client Harleysville Insurance Company of New Jersey, a Nationwide company, in an insurance coverage case involving nearly $5 million of damage to rare opals. The Court affirmed the trial court’s summary judgment decision that Harleysville had no duty to cover its insured in an underlying lawsuit involving the gem stones. In that underlying lawsuit, Companion Trading, who held the opals for sale, alleged that Harleysville’s insured, a safe cracking company, had damaged the rare opals while trying to open the safe with a blow torch. The Riker Danzig team had secured a determination in the trial court that Harleysville did not owe coverage under a liability policy's exclusion for property in the insured’s “care, custody or control.” The Appellate Division agreed that the "care, custody and control" exclusion unambiguously applied to bar indemnity coverage for the underlying suit, and also that the insurer could terminate its defense of the underlying suit. The Court rejected the argument that the "care, custody and control" exclusion did not apply simply because the insured's subcontractor worked on the safe, finding that the critical fact that the safe and opals remained in the insured's possession were sufficient to trigger the exclusionary language. Riker Danzig Co-Managing Partner Lance Kalik represented Harleysville in this matter. The New Jersey Law Journal covered the case at https://www.law.com/njlawjournal/2019/04/22/care-custody-control-exclusion-precluded-coverage-of-claim-for-damaged-opals-399-25204/?slreturn=20190322123801.