Vardanyan v. Amco Ins. Co.Annotate this Case
In this suit alleging breach of an insurance contract, plaintiff appealed the trial court's grant of defendant's motion for directed verdict. Plaintiff contended that the trial court’s intended jury instruction violated the efficient proximate cause doctrine and there was sufficient evidence to permit the jury to determine whether plaintiff met his burden of proving his claim for punitive damages. The court concluded that plaintiff’s interpretation of the Other Coverage 9 provision is the correct interpretation, consistent with the efficient proximate cause doctrine. A policy cannot extend coverage for a specified peril, then exclude coverage for a loss caused by a combination of the covered peril and an excluded peril, without regard to whether the covered peril was the predominant or efficient proximate cause of the loss. Because the trial court granted the motion for a directed verdict based on the effect the erroneous proposed jury instruction would have had on plaintiff’s case, the court reversed and remanded as to this issue. Because defendant's special instruction No. 12 improperly shifted the burden of proof, the trial court erred in its decision to instruct the jury with defendant’s proposed special instruction and in granting defendant’s motion for directed verdict based on the decision to give that instruction. The court reversed and remanded as to this issue. Finally, the court found no error in the trial court's punitive damages claim.