Roberts v. P. & J. Boat Service, Inc.

Decision Date14 April 1973
Docket NumberCiv. A. No. 70-647.
Citation357 F. Supp. 729
CourtU.S. District Court — Eastern District of Louisiana
PartiesGustave ROBERTS, Plaintiff, v. P. & J. BOAT SERVICE, INC., et al., Defendants.

Jack C. Benjamin, Kierr & Gainsburgh, New Orleans, La., for plaintiff.

Joseph J. Weigand, Jr., Waitz, Weigand & Bosworth, Houma, La., for Argonaut Insurance Co.

James J. Morrison, New Orleans, La., for Empire Machine Works, Inc.

Wood Brown, III, Montgomery, Barnett, Brown & Read, New Orleans, La., for Twin Disc, Inc., and Employers Mutual Liability Insurance Co.

Donald Pierce, Organ & Pierce, New Orleans, La., for State Automobile & Casualty Underwriters.

Paul V. Cassisa, Metairie, La., for General Motors Corp.

James E. Blazek, New Orleans, La., for Aetna Casualty & Surety Co. and Gulf Refining Co.

J. Walter Ward, Jr., New Orleans, La., for George Engine Co., Inc.

Melvin J. Duran, New Orleans, La., for P & J Boat Service, Inc.

ON MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

CASSIBRY, District Judge:

The motion of defendant Argonaut Insurance Company for summary judgment and the cross motion of plaintiff Gustave Roberts for summary judgment came on for hearing on August 2, 1972, were argued and submitted.

After due consideration, it is ordered, adjudged and decreed that the defendant's motion be, and it is hereby, granted, and the plaintiff's motion be, and it is hereby denied.

REASONS

In this action by plaintiff for damages for personal injuries allegedly caused about October 12, 1969 by the explosion of the engine of the M/V T James, which engine had been recently rebuilt by the defendant Empire Machine Works, the insured of defendant Argonaut Insurance Company, Argonaut moves for summary judgment contending that its policy of insurance did not provide coverage for the alleged accident. In his cross motion for summary judgment plaintiff contends that the policy does cover the accident.

The accident occurred in navigable waters in Plaquemines Parish, Louisiana where plaintiff was employed as the Captain of the T James by its owner P & J Boat Service, Inc. The bases of plaintiff's complaint against Argonaut's insured Empire Machine Works are strict tort liability, breach of expressed and implied warranties of work and product, and negligence, including Empire's failure properly to rebuild the engine; its failure properly to install the engine; its failure properly to inspect and test the engine prior to installation; its failure to discover defects therein; and its failure to warn the plaintiff of its defects and dangers.1

Argonaut issued a comprehensive liability insurance policy to Empire covering the period January 23, 1969 to January 23, 1970, but it denies that the policy covered the type of risks involved in the causes of injury alleged by the plaintiff. The policy has the general title "Liability Insurance Policy" and it is divided into four principal sections. The first entitled "General Provisions" contains subsections relating to "Supplemental Payments", "Definitions", and "Conditions"; the second is entitled "General Liability—Automobile Policy"; the third, "Coverage Part I—Comprehensive General Liability Insurance"; and the fourth, "Coverage Part III A— Contractual Liability Insurance (Blanket Coverage)".

The section on Comprehensive General Liability Insurance has the broadest possible language of coverage for bodily injury and property damage followed by fourteen exclusions designated (a) through (n). The coverage language is as follows:

"I. COVERAGE A—BODILY INJURY LIABILITY
COVERAGE B—PROPERTY DAMAGE LIABILITY
The company will pay on behalf of the insured all sums which the insured shall become legally obligated to pay as damages because of
A. bodily injury or
B. property damage
to which this insurance applies, caused by an occurrence, * * *"

This language is broad enough to cover two hazards specifically defined in the definitions subsection of the General Provisions, "completed operations hazard" and "products hazard".

"completed operations hazard" includes bodily injury and property damage arising out of operations or reliance upon a representation or warranty made at any time with respect thereto, but only if the bodily injury or property damage occurs after such operations have been completed or abandoned and occurs away from premises owned by or rented to the named insured. "Operations" include materials, parts or equipment furnished in connection therewith. Operations shall be deemed completed at the earliest of the following times:
(1) when all operations to be performed by or on behalf of the named insured under the contract have been completed,
(2) when all operations to be performed by or on behalf of the named insured at the site of the operations have been completed, or (3) when the portion of the work out of which the injury or damage arises has been put to its intended use by any person or organization other than another contractor or subcontractor engaged in performing operations for a principal as a part of the same project.
Operations which may require further service or maintenance work, or correction, repair or replacement because of any defect or deficiency, but which are otherwise complete, shall be deemed completed.
* * * * * *
"products hazard" includes bodily injury and property damage arising out of the named insured's products or reliance upon a representation or warranty made at any time with respect thereto, but only if the bodily injury or property damage occurs away from premises owned by or rented to the named insured and after physical possession of such products has been relinquished to others;
* * * * * *

Generally speaking, these hazards contemplate the risks resulting from the liability of a manufacturer or a contractor for faulty or defective products or work to users thereof suffering injury from such products or work after the products have left the possession of the manufacturer or after the work has been completed and accepted.2 Argonaut contends that all of the risks involved in plaintiff's injuries were removed from coverage by an endorsement to the Comprehensive General Liability Insurance portion of the policy which excluded these hazards.

That endorsement reads:

"This endorsement modifies such insurance as is afforded by the provisions of the policy relating to the following:
COMPREHENSIVE GENERAL LIABILITY INSURANCE
EXCLUSION
(Completed Operations Hazard and Products Hazard)
It is agreed that such insurance as is afforded by the Bodily Injury Liability Coverage and the Property Damage Liability Coverage does not apply to bodily injury or property damage included within the Completed Operations Hazard or the Products Hazard.
Nothing herein contained shall be held to vary, alter, waive or extend any of the terms, conditions, agreements, or limitations of this policy other than as above stated."

It would appear that, inasmuch as plaintiff's claim for bodily injuries is allegedly the result of a faulty or defective engine which Empire had either manufactured or performed some operation on by rebuilding and which was in the possession of P & J Boat Service at the time of the accident, the risks involved would be included in the completed operations hazard or the products hazard, and would have been removed from coverage by the endorsement. Plaintiff contends however that, notwithstanding this endorsement, some of the risks involved in plaintiff's injury are covered by exceptions to exclusions (a) and (k) from coverage for bodily injury and property damage liability in the Comprehensive General Liability Insurance portion of the policy; or, in the alternative, that these exceptions to exclusions when considered with the endorsement create an ambiguity in the exclusions intended which must be resolved in favor of insurance coverage under the authority of Sparkman v. Highway Ins. Co., 266 F.Supp. 197 (W. D.La.1967); Standard Life Ins. Co. of Ind. v. Hughes, 240 F.2d 859 (5 Cir. 1957); Wilks v. Allstate Ins. Co., 177 So.2d 790 (3 Cir., La.App.1965), cert. den. 248 La. 424, 179 So.2d 18; also, Fuselier v. La. Hospital Serv., Inc., 260 So.2d 32 (3 Cir. La.App.1972); Snell v. Stein, 261 La. 358, 259 So.2d 876 (1972); Creole Explorations, Inc. v. Underwriters at Lloyd's London, 245 La. 927, 161 So.2d 768 (1964); Schonberg v. New York Life Ins. Co., 235 La. 461, 104 So.2d 171 (1958); Stanley v. Cryer Drilling Co., 213 La. 980, 36 So.2d 9 (1948).

The exclusions and the exceptions thereto relied upon by plaintiff to avoid the exclusion by endorsement appear in those exclusions (a) through (n) heretofore referred to as following immediately the broad coverage language quoted previously in the Comprehensive General Liability Insurance portion of the policy, and they provide as follows:

Exclusions
This insurance does not apply:
(a) to liability assumed by the insured under any contract or agreement except an incidental contract; but this exclusion does not apply to a
...

To continue reading

Request your trial
14 cases
  • American States Ins. Co. v. Aetna Life & Cas. Co.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Indiana
    • August 21, 1978
    ...containing a Products Hazard exclusion. The dispositive reasoning is the same in both types of cases.4 In Roberts v. P. & J. Boat Service, Inc., 357 F.Supp. 729 (E.D.La.1973), the plaintiff argued that negligence was not specifically excepted from the policy's coverage. However, the court n......
  • Steyer v. Westvaco Corp.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Maryland
    • March 20, 1978
    ...Hoffman & Klemperer Co. v. Ocean Accident & Guarantee Corp., 292 F.2d 324 (7th Cir. 1961) (building clearing); Roberts v. P. J. Boat Service, Inc., 357 F.Supp. 729 (E.D.La.1973) (engine repair); Nielson v. Travelers Indemnity Co., 174 F.Supp. 648 (N.D.Iowa 1959) (excavation Under the "compl......
  • Tiano v. Aetna Cas. and Sur. Co.
    • United States
    • Court of Appeal of Michigan (US)
    • December 2, 1980
    ...888, 145 Cal.Rptr. 836 (1978), Abco Tank & Manufacturing Co. v. Federal Ins. Co., 550 S.W.2d 193 (Mo., 1977), Roberts v. P & J Boat Service, Inc., 357 F.Supp. 729 (E.D.La., 1973). In addressing this question, the Roberts Court stated at "It is clear from the wording of the endorsement in th......
  • Scarborough v. Northern Assur. Co. of America
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (5th Circuit)
    • October 28, 1983
    ...as being too fine, for that particular purpose).8 Compare note 7, supra.9 The district court's reliance on Roberts v. P. & J. Boat Service, Inc., 357 F.Supp. 729 (E.D.La.1973), is misplaced. There, the claim was based on injuries arising out of an explosion of an engine which had been negli......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT