from the Superior Court in Maricopa County No. CV2015-013146
The Honorable Douglas Gerlach, Judge
Swenson Storer Andrews Frazelle PC, Phoenix By Michael J.
Frazelle, A. Daniel Coumides Counsel for Plaintiff/Appellee
Office of Scott E. Boehm PC, Phoenix By Scott E. Boehm
Counsel for Defendants/Appellants
Jennifer M. Perkins delivered the opinion of the Court, in
which Presiding Judge Diane M. Johnsen and Judge Kent E.
Appellants challenge the superior court's summary
judgment for Appellee Cincinnati Indemnity Company on its
claim for declaratory relief regarding the terms of an
insurance agreement. We affirm, holding that a single event
caused by several independent acts is a single occurrence
under the applicable policy language, which defines
"occurrence" as an "accident."
AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
Appellants Colby Hale and Curtis Moreland were apprentices in
an electrical lineman training program operated by Appellants
Southwestern Line Constructors Joint Apprenticeship and
Training Program, Southwestern Line Constructors Joint
Apprenticeship and Training Committee, and Southwestern Line
Construction Electrical Joint Apprenticeship and Training
Program (collectively, "Southwestern"). While Hale
and Moreland were working at the top of a utility pole at
Southwestern's training facility, the pole broke and they
fell, sustaining serious injuries.
Hale and Moreland sued Southwestern for negligence and agreed
to settle their claims for the limits of Southwestern's
commercial general liability insurance policy (the
"Policy"). The Policy limits coverage to $1, 000,
000 per "occurrence, " with a total aggregate
claims limit of $2, 000, 000.
Southwestern's insurer, Cincinnati Indemnity, sued,
seeking a declaratory judgment that Hale and Moreland's
injuries were the result of a single "occurrence"
and, therefore, the maximum coverage available under the
policy is $1, 000, 000. On summary judgment, the superior
court ruled that both claims resulted from a single
occurrence under the Policy. Southwestern, Hale, and Moreland
A court may grant summary judgment when "the moving
party shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any
material fact and . . . is entitled to judgment as a matter
of law." Ariz. R. Civ. P. 56(a). We review a grant of
summary judgment de novo and "view the evidence
and all reasonable inferences in the light most favorable to
the party against whom summary judgment was entered."
Duncan v. Scottsdale Med. Imaging, Ltd., 205 Ariz.
306, 308, ¶ 2 (2003). The interpretation of insurance
policy language is a matter of law that we review de
novo. First Am. Title Ins. Co. v. Action Acquisitions,
LLC, 218 Ariz. 394, 397, ¶ 8 (2008).
The Policy requires Cincinnati Indemnity to pay amounts
Southwestern became legally obligated to pay as damages
because of bodily injury or property damage caused by an
"occurrence" within the coverage territory. The
Policy defines an "occurrence" as "an
accident, including continuous or repeated exposure to
substantially the same general harmful conditions." The
facts are undisputed-Hale and Moreland were not injured by
continuous or repeated exposure to substantially the same
general harmful conditions. The issue is whether their
injuries resulted from a single "accident" within
the meaning of the Policy. The superior court ruled that
"accident" means an unforeseen and unplanned event,
and since there was only one accident (the collapse of the
pole), there was only one occurrence.
Relying on Arizona Property and Casualty Insurance
Guaranty Fund v. Helme,153 Ariz. 129 (1987), Appellants
argue the number of independent acts that caused the pole to
break determines the number of occurrences, and assert
Southwestern committed five independent negligent acts that
caused the pole to break: (1) utilizing wooden poles in its
training yard and failing to conduct a pre-climb inspection,
(2) failing to perform a pre-climb "hammer test" on
the pole, (3) failing to conduct a pre-climb "bore