Jenner & Block

Insurance Law Update: “Connecticut Supreme Court Holds That Injuries To Multiple Nursing Home Residents Caused By Fire Are Not ‘Related Medical Incidents’”

Courts have long struggled to construe the scope of “related acts” provisions in insurance policies. As Justice Scalia has observed, applying a “‘relate to’ provision according to its terms [is] a project doomed to failure, since, as many a curbstone philosopher has observed, everything is related to everything else.” California Div. of Labor Standards Enforcement v. Dillingham, Const., N.A., Inc., 519 U.S. 316, 335 (1997) (Scalia, J., concurring). Recently, the Connecticut Supreme Court construed the term “related” narrowly, holding that the claims of multiple plaintiffs who suffered distinct injuries based on a single fire set at a nursing home were not “related medical incidents” under the nursing home’s insurance policy. Lexington Ins. Co. v. Lexington Healthcare Group, Inc., 84 A.3d 1167 (Conn. 2014). Lexington reached a pro-coverage outcome, but highlights the need for policyholders to clarify the scope of “related acts” provisions during policy negotiations, rather than facing the risk of litigation.