Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Superior Court holds that Massachusetts has personal jurisdiction over New York insurer

James Nolan brought a tort action against Rochester. When Rochester's insurer, Dryden, refused to defend or indemnify it Rochester brought a coverage action against Dryden. Dryden moved to dismiss on the grounds that Massachusetts courts may not exercise personal jurisdiction over it. In Nolan v. Barr & Barr, Inc., 2010 WL 2762682, Superior Court judge Kenton-Walker disagreed.

Dryden has a principal place of business in New York and is licensed to issue insurance policies in New York. P & J is a carpet-installation business located in New York. Dryden issued a general liability policy to P & J. The policy did not limit coverage to New York.

P & J teamed with Rochester, another New York carpet-installation company, to install carpeting at the Williams College Theater in Massachusetts. P & J added Rochester to the Dryden policy as an additional insured.

Judge Kenton-Walker held that Massachusetts courts may exercise personal jurisdiction over Dryden. Although on its insurance application P & J had represented that none of its business took place outside of New York, the policy did not exclude coverage for claims outside of New York. Judge Kenton-Walker held that it was reasonably foreseeable that the insureds would be sued in Massachusetts, and Dryden should have known that it would be required to defend them in Massachusetts.

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