Plymouth Rubber Co. v. Insurance Co. of North America, Inc.

18 Mass. App. Ct. 364, 465 N.E.2d 1234 (1984)

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Plymouth Rubber Co. v. Insurance Co. of North America, Inc.

Massachusetts Appeals Court
18 Mass. App. Ct. 364, 465 N.E.2d 1234 (1984)

Facts

Plymouth Rubber Company (Plymouth) (plaintiff) shipped rubber products to Iran. Due to Plymouth’s concern about how its products were being handled and stored in Iran, Plymouth purchased a special marine-insurance policy from the Insurance Company of North America, Inc. (INA) (defendant). The policy did not cover a vessel but covered Plymouth’s products only “while at Dockside” in Iran. The policy contained a standard perils clause, which provided that the policy covered damage caused by the perils of the sea or other similar perils. The policy also included a standard shore clause, which covered, among other things, onshore collisions or other accidents to the conveyance. Upon discovering that its products were damaged by rough handling onshore and by their storage outdoors, Plymouth filed a claim under the policy. INA denied Plymouth’s claim, leading Plymouth to, among other things, sue INA under the policy. The trial court granted summary judgment to INA. Plymouth appealed, arguing that notwithstanding the ordinary scope of a perils clause, Plymouth was covered under the perils clause because of the policy’s commercial context. Plymouth further argued that it was covered under the shore clause because the term “collision” was ambiguous and, construing the policy against INA (which drafted the policy), the term should be construed to cover generic collisions. INA responded that (1) the perils clause applied only to extraordinary, water-borne damage, regardless of the policy’s commercial context, and (2) the shore clause unambiguously embraced only a collision involving a truck or rail car, not a generic collision.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Kass, J.)

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