Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Certified question answered on what is an occurrence

In Owners Insurance Co. v. Salmonsen, the Supreme Court was presented with the following certified question: To determine the number of occurrences for purposes of a commercial general liability insurance policy’s liability limit, will South Carolina adopt the majority or minority rule? The majority rule in interpreting the meaning of "occurrence" in a liability policy is the so-called "cause test" which focuses on the cause of the damage rather than the number of claimants or injuries. The minority view, on the other hand, focuses on the effect of the insured's action and considers each event or each injury a separate occurrence.

The Court declined to adopt either view and held that in this case involving a sale of defective synthetic stucco, "because the distributor has taken no distinct action giving rise to liability for each sale, we conclude under this policy definition that placing a defective product into the stream of commerce is one occurrence. "

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