A. M. Larson Co. v. Lawlor Ins. Agency

Decision Date17 May 1966
Citation153 Conn. 618,220 A.2d 32
CourtConnecticut Supreme Court

Robert B. Snow, Jr., New Haven, with whom, on the brief, was William J. Egan, Hartford, for appellant (defendant American Guarantee & Liability Ins. Co.).

Walter M. Pickett, Jr., Waterbury, for appellee (plaintiff).


KING, Chief Justice.

During the trial the plaintiff dropped the named defendant as a party, and judgment was rendered only against the defendant American Guarantee and Liability Insurance Company, hereinafter referred to as the insurer. In this appeal the insurer has raised a number of claims of error, one of which was that under the terms of a so-called 'hoisting endorsement' there was no coverage of the loss forming the subject matter of this action.

The plaintiff, a trucking concern, procured from the insurer a policy of insurance commonly known as a motor truck cargo insurance policy. Basically, the policy covered the plaintiff's liability as a carrier, bailee or warehouseman for loss on shipments of general merchandise and household and office furniture while they were loaded for shipment and in transit on vehicles owned or operated by the plaintiff. The plaintiff also procured a 'hoisting endorsement.' The proper interpretation of the coverage provided by this endorsement, as applied to the facts of this case, forms the basic controversy in this appeal.

The plaintiff's claim of coverage is principally based on the italicized portion of the endorsement which is quoted as follows: 'In consideration of the premium charged it is agreed that only with respect to hoisting or rigging operations of the assured this policy is extended to cover the assured's legal liability for loss or damage to insured property: (A) Directly caused by breaking or parting or failure of tackle and/or hoisting equipment while said property is being loaded on or unloaded from a transporting motor truck or being moved in or out of buildings but it shall not be construed to cover damage caused by the failure of floors, walls, elevators, or other permanent parts and/or regular equipment of such buildings. (B) Directly caused by the perils listed in section 4 of the policy rider (Form SA1-46-J) while in transit on motor trucks owned and/or operated by the assured. It is further mutually agreed that each claim for said loss or damage to insured property involved in hoisting or rigging operations shall be adjusted separately and from the amount of each loss when determined, the sum of one hundred and no/100 dollars ($100.00) shall be deducted.'

The plaintiff undertook to relocate an overhead traveling crane, consisting of a cab and two beams, all located inside of a building of American Anaconda Brass Company, hereinafter referred to as American, in Waterbury. Each beam weighed seven to eight tons, and the crane was eighty feet long. The plaintiff intended to lower the crane, rotate it 180 degrees, and hoist it back into position. The entire operation was intended to be, and was, carried on within the building belonging to American.

In the course of lowering the cab of the crane, the plaintiff's equipment failed, and the load came down with a crash, damaging not only the load but certain property in its path. The insurer, under a property damage policy which it had also issued, paid the loss arising from the damage to the property injured by the falling load. The present case is concerned solely with the insurer's liability for the damage to the cab of the crane itself, which was not being loaded on or unloaded from a transporting motor truck.

The plaintiff bases its claim of coverage largely on the ground that at the time of the accident the damaged property was 'being moved in or out of buildings.' In so claiming, the plaintiff is forced to, and does, construe the quoted phrase as referring to a static place of operations, that is, inside of, or outside of, buildings. Such a construction is required if the plaintiff is to prevail, since admittedly the entire moving operation was intended to and did, take place wholly within American's building. Nothing had been...

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37 cases
  • Weingarten v. Allstate Ins. Co.
    • United States
    • Connecticut Supreme Court
    • September 16, 1975
    ...contract principles requiring a court to construe a clause against the party who drew up that clause. A. M. Larson Co. v. Lawlor Ins. Agency, Inc., 153 Conn. 618, 622, 220 A.2d 32; 17A C.J.S. Contracts § 324. Furthermore, motorists purchase insurance not merely to fulfill a public responsib......
  • Hsb Group, Inc. v. Svb Underwriting, Ltd.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Connecticut
    • September 30, 2009
    ...as inoperative, if any reasonable meaning can be given to it consistent with the rest of the policy. A.M. Larson Co. v. Lawlor Ins. Agency, 153 Conn. 618, 622, 220 A.2d 32 (1966). It is also a basic principle of insurance law that the court should construe the terms from the perspective of ......
  • Heyman Associates No. 1 v. Insurance Co. of State of Pa.
    • United States
    • Connecticut Supreme Court
    • January 17, 1995
    ...in part, Streitweiser v. Middlesex Mutual Assurance Co., 219 Conn. 371, 593 A.2d 498 (1991) ]; A.M. Larson Co. v. Lawlor Ins. Agency, Inc., 153 Conn. 618, 622, 220 A.2d 32 [1966]. The determinative question is the intent of the parties, that is, what coverage the ... [plaintiff] expected to......
  • Hammer v. Lumberman's Mut. Cas. Co.
    • United States
    • Connecticut Supreme Court
    • April 17, 1990
    ... ... Mutual Life Ins. Co. of New York, 669 F.2d 955 (4th Cir.1982), and cases cited therein ... Co., supra, 160 Conn. at 284, 278 A.2d 796; see A.M. Larson Co. v. Lawlor Ins. Agency, Inc., 153 Conn. 618, 622, 220 A.2d 32 (1966) ... ...
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1 books & journal articles
  • Analyzing Environmental Insurance Coverage Claims Under Connecticut Law
    • United States
    • Connecticut Bar Association Connecticut Bar Journal No. 66, 1991
    • Invalid date
    ...definition. Such an interpretation violates a fundamental rule of contract construction. In A.M. Larson Co. v. Lawlor Ins. Agency, 153 Conn. 618 (1966), the Connecticut Supreme Court reversed a determination that "render[ed] the quoted phrase mere surplusage and inoperative in the context o......

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