Parking lot mishap inspires absurd lawsuit

Peggy Lampert was a customer of the One-Half Off Card Shopat the Minges Creek Shopping Center. After she left the card shop, as she waswalking to her car in the parking lot, she slipped and fell, causing seriouspersonal injuries and damages.

She sued the shopping center owner and the card shop. Thestate trial court dismissed the card shop from liability because the card shopdid not legally have control over the sidewalk or parking area where Lampert’sinjury occurred. Chubb Insurance Co., as insurer for the shopping center owner,then settled the lawsuit for $210,000.

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The shopping center owner, on behalf of Chubb, then sued thecard shop’s insurer, Royal Insurance Co. Minges Creek argued that because thecard shop was required by its store lease to name Minges Creek as an additionalinsured under its policy, that policy should pay Lampert’s $210,000 damagesbecause she had just left that store.

But the card shop’s insurer argued its policy insured onlyinjuries that occur inside the store, and the card shop had no control over thesidewalk and parking lot common areas, which were shared with patrons of otherstores in the shopping center.

If you were the judge would you rule the card shop insurershould be liable for Lampert’s injuries since she had just left the card shopwhose insurance policy named the shopping center as an additional insured?

The judge said no!

The lease between the card shop and the shopping centerowner required the card shop’s insurer to name the shopping center as anadditional insured under the policy, the judge began. Such a procedure isnormal in commercial leases, he noted, in case an accident occurs within thestore premises.

However, this accident occurred outside the card shop, thejudge explained, and the card shop had no control over the sidewalk and parkinglot common areas. The card shop had a duty under its lease to maintaininsurance only inside its store premises and not outside that space, he noted.

An absurd result would occur if each of the store insurerswere to be held liable for injuries occurring outside the stores in the commonareas, the judge emphasized. This result would be unreasonable since theshopping center owner has its own insurance policy for the common areas, hecontinued.

The card shop insurer, Royal Insurance Co., had no duty todefend against Lampert’s claims, as the trial court determined, the judgeruled. The only reasonable result is that Chubb Insurance Co. was the properinsurance company to defend the case and the card shop’s insurer has noliability, the judge concluded.

Based on the 2006 U.S. Court of Appeals decision in MingesCreek LLC v. Royal Insurance Co. of America, 442 Fed.3d 953.

(For more information on Bob Bruss publications, visit his
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Copyright 2006 Inman News

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