Selective Insurance Company of America v. ZurichAmerican Insurance Company
The plaintiff, Selective Insurance, sought coverage under a Commercial Auto policy issued by Zurich to its insured, Republic Services, for an accident that Selective claimed arose out of the use of a Republic vehicle. The subject accident involved the driver of a Republic truck who was struck in the head by a log that rolled down a hill on a utility Right of Way. Selective’s insured had been hired to remove vegetation from that Right of Way and Republic was hired to haul the vegetation from the site. At the time of the accident, Selective’s insured’s employees were “staging” logs for the purpose of being loaded onto the truck. It was Selective’s argument that the “staging” of the logs was an integral part of the loading process, thereby implicating the Zurich policy. Kathleen Mulholland successfully argued in the Superior Court, and it was unanimously affirmed on appeal, that the “staging” of logs did not constitute the “use” of the truck and that the accident was not related to the use of a vehicle. The Court specifically held that the “accident arose not from any loading or unloading activities but from the negligent acts of those involved in the clearing of the trees.”