Home Page The Publication The Editor Contact Information Insurance Key issues Book Subscribe

Vol. 4, Iss. 4
April 8, 2015

Jets And Sharks And Insurance Coverage: Judicial Writing At Its Finest


Forget whether you can tell a book by its cover (a lot of times you really can I think), I have long maintained that you can very often tell a coverage case by its opening paragraph. A recent one from the New Jersey Appellate Division has as good as a lede as you’ll ever see. And it only got better from there. Canon v. Palisades Insurance Company (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. Mar. 25, 2015) started out with this gem:

“This case involves a street fight between two groups of combatants, some of whom were employed as telemarketers with two local companies. Not surprisingly, the challenge to fight, the acceptance of that challenge, and negotiations over the combat site were all done telephonically.”

Yes, as hard to believe as it sounds, that is precisely what the case is about. But the court didn’t stop there. It took the opportunity to make the events leading up to the street brawl resemble lawyers on opposite sides trying to schedule a mediation:

“While waiting for Green, Soto received a call from someone identified only as Dom, who challenged Hyslop’s group to a fight. Hyslop’s group accepted the challenge but could not agree where to stage the combat. Dom’s group proposed fighting near Borough Hall, but Hyslop’s group rejected that location as too crowded and proposed three different locations, the Lakeview Apartments, Fielek Park, and the Skytop Gardens Complex. All three sites were rejected by Dom’s group.”

The two groups then continued phone discussions and a location agreeable to both sides was chosen. However, the fight didn’t take place as scheduled. One group arrived in a car with the occupants carrying baseball bats. The other group, expecting a traditional fist fight, was unarmed, and hurriedly left. However, the parties were willing to continue settlement efforts: “The two cars drove to the Skytop Gardens Complex while their occupants made phone calls trying to reschedule the fight.”

To make a long story short, someone was eventually shot in the head. He filed suit against some of the individuals on the other side. A default judgment was entered in the amount of $65,000. Seeking to satisfy the judgment, the victim then filed an action against the auto insurer for one of the assailant’s parents. The substantive coverage issues in the case are not significant enough to warrant discussion here – “expected or intended” and “use of an auto.”

Sadly, the opinion does not mention what caused these two groups to want to kill each other. Maybe each one tele-marketed the other.

[The opinion in Canon v. Palisades Insurance Company is per curiam, so I can’t give kudos to any particular author -- only the authors collectively: Judges Simonelli, Guadagno and Leone.]


Website by Balderrama Design Copyright Randy Maniloff All Rights Reserved