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Forklift injury not excluded by ambiguous exclusion

09 December 2022 Donald Dinnie, Norton Rose Fulbright
Donald Dinnie, Norton Rose Fulbright

Donald Dinnie, Norton Rose Fulbright

The insured drove a forklift decorated like a float with his wife on a swing hung from the forks to celebrate her 50th birthday, surrounded by partygoers. It was held that his liability for running over a party guest’s foot was covered because it was not excluded coverage for bodily injury arising out of mobile equipment used for “any prearranged racing, speed, demolition or stunting activity”.

The court found that “stunting activity” can have different meanings. It may be something interesting done in order to attract attention and get publicity for a person or it can mean an action displaying spectacular skill and daring. In the context of “racing, speed and demolition” which all require skill or daring, the phrase “stunting activity” was held to bear a similar meaning. Even, said the court, if that were not the case, the phrase was ambiguous and therefore construed in favour of coverage.

Indian Harbor Insurance Company v Group SHS LLC case no. 21-56078 US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

First published by: Financial Institutions Legal Snapshot

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