The New Jersey Supreme Court overturned a lower court decision Wednesday, upholding Admiral Insurance Co.’s denial of coverage to a window covering company based on an insurance exclusion.
Santa Fe Springs, Calif.-based Richfield Window Coverings LLC, doing business as Nien Made (USA), sells window coverings to national retailers such as Home Depot, and supplies the retailers with cutting machines designed to cut blinds to customers’ specifications, according to the unanimous decision of the Supreme Court of New Jersey at Trenton i Norman International Inc. and Richfield Window Coverings LLC, d/b/a/ Nien Made (USA) Inc. v. Admiral Insurance Co.
The device Admiral from WR Berkley Corp. issued a general liability policy to Richfield that contained an exclusion stating that it does not provide coverage for any liability in certain specifically identified New York counties, including Nassau.
An employee at a Home Depot store in Freeport, New York, in Nassau County, severed parts of her fingers while operating a blind cutting machine provided at Home Depot and maintained by Richfield, according to the ruling. She and her husband sued Richfield alleging, among other things, negligent design.
When Admiral denied coverage for Richfield̵7;s claims in the case, Richfield sued the insurer in state court, which ruled in favor of the insurer.
A state appeals court reversed that decision, finding there was no “causal connection” between Richfield’s activities involving the machine and the causes of action raised in the complaint.
That ruling was overturned by the Supreme Court’s unanimous ruling in favor of the insurer. The clause listing which counties are exempt says the policy did not cover bodily injury that is “in any way connected to” the insured, the decision said.
“There is clearly a connection between Richfield providing the machine to Home Depot and (the injured employee’s) injuries; Had Richfield not provided the machine to Home Depot, (the employee) would not have used it and would not have accidentally cut her fingers,” it said, as he overruled the appeals court ruling that Richfield had not filed a covered claim.
Attorneys in the case had no comment or did not respond to requests for comment.