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Flomerfelt v. Cardiello

202 N.J. 432, 997 A.2d 991 (2010)

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Flomerfelt v. Cardiello

New Jersey Supreme Court

202 N.J. 432, 997 A.2d 991 (2010)

Facts

Wendy Flomerfelt (plaintiff) went to a party at the home of Matthew Cardiello (defendant). Cardiello provided Flomerfelt drugs and alcohol. Flomerfelt was later found unresponsive. After a failed effort to call Flomerfelt’s sister to take Flomerfelt to the hospital, Cardiello called rescue personnel. Flomerfelt was treated for injuries that were “probably secondary to drug overdose.” Flomerfelt mostly recovered but suffered permanent, partial hearing loss. Flomerfelt sued Cardiello, producing an expert witness who opined that Flomerfelt’s injuries were caused by the ingestion of drugs and alcohol and that her injuries were exacerbated by Cardiello’s delay in summoning rescue personnel. Cardiello’s expert witness suggested that Flomerfelt’s injuries could have resulted from prior drug use and that Flomerfelt’s injuries would have happened even had rescue personnel been summoned sooner. Cardiello tendered Flomerfelt’s complaint to his homeowner’s insurer, Pennsylvania General (plaintiff), seeking a defense and indemnification. Pennsylvania General declined to provide either and relied on an exclusion for losses “arising out of the use . . . of controlled substance(s).” To resolve the issues of the duties to defend and indemnify, Pennsylvania General sued Cardiello in a declaratory-judgment action, which was consolidated with Flomerfelt’s personal-injury action. The trial court found that Pennsylvania General had a duty to defend and indemnify. The appellate court reversed. Cardiello appealed to the New Jersey Supreme Court.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Hoens, J.)

Concurrence (LaVecchia, J.)

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