Chanthavong v. Union Sec. Ins. Co., 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 155964 (M.D. Pa. Nov. 4, 2014)

Seizure disorder did not preclude recovery of accidental death benefits under physical disease exclusion.

The decedent accidentally drowned in his bathtub, and the plaintiffs, acting on behalf of the decedent’s son, sought accidental death benefits under a policy issued by the defendant, Union Security Insurance Company. The defendant denied the claim for benefits, citing the decedent’s seizure disorder as the direct or indirect cause of his death, thus, precluding recovery under a policy exclusion, which provided that the defendant “will not pay [accidental death] benefits if the loss results directly or indirectly from… any physical disease ... .” The court agreed with the plaintiffs’ position that the seizure may have “merely [begun] a chain of events that led to [the decedent’s] death,” but that his death was caused by cardiac arrest as a result of water filling his lungs, not a seizure. The court held that the physical disease exclusion did not apply and that the plaintiffs were entitled to accidental death benefits.

Case Law Alerts, 1st Quarter, January 2015