IL Nat'l Ins. Co v. Wyndham Worldwide Operations, Inc., No. 10-3833 (3d Cir. 2011)Annotate this Case
The insurance company sought a declaratory judgment that a plane crash that killed five people did not trigger coverage under a fleet insurance policy issued to an aircraft maintenance and charter company. The policy identifies the company's clients (including Wyndham) as "named insureds" and as "insured owners," but Wyndham did not participate in its negotiation. Wyndham filed a counterclaim seeking coverage. The crash involved a plane rented by a Wyndham employee to attend a work-related meeting, but did not involve the charter company in any way. The court held that Wyndham was entitled to coverage. The Third Circuit reversed. New Jersey law allows reformation, on the basis of mutual mistake, against a party that did not participate in negotiation of a contract and the insurance company sufficiently pled mutual mistake. Although the contract appears to provide third parties with coverage when using aircraft without the charter company's involvement, both contracting parties believed that the language did not expand coverage to entities unaffiliated with the charter company, such as Wyndham. The premium went down with the addition of the language at issue because the intent was to limit coverage for to aircraft owned, used by, or at the direction of the charter company.