Security & the Law: Willful, Wanton Beware!
March 1, 2007
In a recent action in the State of Connecticut, the insurance company filed a lawsuit against its insured attempting to recover monies paid to the insured as a result of an explosion and fire that occurred on the insured’s premises. The plaintiff also named the security company, whose predecessor installed the fire alarm system, and the company who monitored the alarm system as additional defendants.
The security company filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit based on the language of the agreement entered into between the insurance company’s insured and the alarm company’s predecessor, which contained a limitation of liability clause that limited the security company’s liability to $10,000 or the annual contract price, whichever was less.
In opposition to the motion, the plaintiff argued that among other things, the security company breached a condition to the contract: that the parties never intended the limitation of liability provision to apply to the chemical rooms of the insured’s premises. The plaintiff said that the provision is contrary to public policy and the provision does not apply to the plaintiff’s non-property damage claims.
The court found that the limitation of liability provision contained in the contract was valid and enforceable and that the security company’s motion for summary judgment was granted as to all of the counts against the security company, except for count 22.
The allegations in count 22 were based on product liability, where the plaintiff alleged that the security company engaged in intentional, willful, wanton and reckless conduct. Neither the security company nor the plaintiff submitted any evidence regarding the claim of reckless and intentional conduct or the effect of the limitation of liability provision as to these allegations.
The court held that the security company bears the burden of showing the nonexistence of any material issue of fact and the court must view any evidence in the light most favorable to the plaintiff insurance company.
Therefore, the court held that it could not grant a summary judgment at this time with respect to the allegations of intentional, willful, wanton and reckless conduct contained in the 22nd count and therefore the security company’s motion to dismiss with reference to that count was denied, which would then require the parties to go to trial on that issue.
With reference to all of the other counts that were alleged by the insurance company, the court entered a judgment for the amount of the limitation of liability clause in the contract as set out by the security company.