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Suit filed against AmTrust reinstated, policy language ambiguous


A federal appeals court overturned a lower court on Friday in favor of an AmTrust Financial Services Inc. unit, citing ambiguous policy language.

In July 2019, Waldy Reyes and Argenis Reyes, who were employees of Philadelphia-based AM Marlin Construction LLC and/or Fort Washington, Pennsylvania-based Altman Management Co., were injured while working on a building at 4207 Chester Ave., Philadelphia, when they stepped onto a balcony that collapsed, according to the court papers in Westchester American Insurance Co; Waldy Reyes; Argenis Reyes; Rosalba Munoz, H/W as assignees of 4207 Chester Ave. LLC. v. Security National Insurance Co.

Argenis Reyes fell multiple stories and suffered significant injuries, including permanent paralysis, and is seeking more than $35 million in damages. Waldy Reyes, who fell one story and suffered two fractured ribs, has made an unrevealed settlement demand.

Penn Valley, Pennsylvania-based 4297 Chester Ave LLC is an additional insured under a commercial general liability insurance policy issued by AmTrust unit Security National to AM Marlin Construction Co. Chester is seeking defense and indemnification from Security National.

The district court ruled Security National was not obligated to provide coverage to Chester Avenue. It pointed to an employer’s liability exclusion in the policy, which says that coverage is unavailable for bodily injury to any insured. It said the exclusion applied because Mr. Reyes was employed by Altman, which is one of the entities listed in the additional insured schedule.

It was overturned by a three-judge appeals court panel. “Upon reviewing AM Marlin’s policy as a whole, we conclude that the language in the Additional Insured Endorsement is ambiguous. Accordingly, the language must be construed against (Security National) as drafter of the policy.”

Attorneys in the case did not respond to requests for comment.