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$1 M Policy Limit Applies in Fatal Porch Collapse

(CN) - An insurer does not have to pay out more than $1 million to the families of people killed or injured in a three-story porch collapse, an Illinois appeals court ruled.

The 2003 tragedy, which brought a third-story porch through the second-story porch to crash on the first floor, killed 13 partygoers and injured 29 more on various floors of the house.

Families of the victims settled their claims with the owner of the apartment building, Phillip Pappas and other defendants. They also obtained an assignment of rights against First Specialty Insurance Co.

Though the policy has a $1 million limit per occurrence, the plaintiffs said that the $2 million aggregate limit applied since some of the victims died in the days after the collapse.

First Specialty argued that the porch collapse was the only "occurrence" under the policy that caused the deaths and injuries.

A Cook County judge sided with First Specialty, and the Fifth Division of the First District Illinois Appellate Court affirmed last week.

"We can see nothing in the policy which would support plaintiffs' contention that the collapse constituted multiple occurrences under the policy," Justice William Taylor II wrote for a three-member panel. "According to the policy, the per-occurrence limit of $1 million applied to all injuries or deaths arising "at any time" out of an accident."

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