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Vol. 3, Iss. 12
August 20, 2014

PMA v. Aetna: Straight From The Horse’s Mouth:
PMA’s Lawyer Still At It Nearly 60 Years Later


As mentioned in the July 23rd issue of Coverage Opinions, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s 1967 decision in PMA v. Aetna has long-been a controversial one. The decision holds that the Employer’s Liability exclusion (even when it says employee of “the” insured and not “any” insured; and there is a separation of insureds clause) precludes coverage for all insureds, even if the injured plaintiff is not an employee of the insured seeking coverage.

Because it is a Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision, Keystone State courts have been required to follow it, notwithstanding rumblings that they would have ruled differently if writing on a clean slate. Despite all of the debate surrounding PMA v. Aetna, this near-60 year old decision has never been revisited by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. Until now.

On June 20, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court agreed to hear an appeal in Mutual Benefit Ins. Co. v. Politopoulos, where the Superior Court, constrained to follow the PMA decision, dealt with its displeasure with it by distinguishing it. In general, the court did so based on what it saw as a difference in the separation of interests clause.

PMA was long-ago represented in its case with Aetna by an attorney named Joe Foster, including arguing it before the Pennsylvania high court. Joe Foster worked for a law firm named White and Williams. Nearly 60 years later, Joe Foster still works for a law firm named White and Williams. I see Joe in the office on a regular basis and we often talk about PMA. [Joe likes to give people nicknames. He calls me Manny.]

Joe takes pride in having been involved – and on the winning side – in one of Pennsylvania’s most important coverage cases. He also takes pride in how long PMA has stood the test of time. As for the “PMA issue” headed to the Supreme Court for the first time since LBJ was in the White House and gas was $0.33 a gallon, Joe told me this: “PMA was correctly decided and I hope that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court recognizes that.”


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