Contractor's insurer in collapse: Policy invalid

FILE - In this file photo provided by Jordan McLaughlin, a dust cloud rises as people run from the scene of a building collapse on the edge of downtown Philadelphia on Wednesday, June 5, 2013. An official says an inspector who surveyed a Philadelphia building before it collapsed last week, killing six people, has committed suicide. Deputy Mayor Everett Gillison says the inspector was found fatally shot in a pickup truck Wednesday night, June 12, 2013. The man was a Department of Licenses and Inspections employee who had inspected the building May 14. (AP Photo/Jordan McLaughlin, File)
FILE - In this file photo provided by Jordan McLaughlin, a dust cloud rises as people run from the scene of a building collapse on the edge of downtown Philadelphia on Wednesday, June 5, 2013. An official says an inspector who surveyed a Philadelphia building before it collapsed last week, killing six people, has committed suicide. Deputy Mayor Everett Gillison says the inspector was found fatally shot in a pickup truck Wednesday night, June 12, 2013. The man was a Department of Licenses and Inspections employee who had inspected the building May 14. (AP Photo/Jordan McLaughlin, File)
Posted: August 08, 2013

The insurance company for the contractor being sued by people injured in the Market Street building collapse contends that the contractor's insurance policy is invalid because he lied on key application documents.

Berkley Assurance Co. of Iowa filed a suit Monday afternoon in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court arguing that Griffin Campbell misrepresented his history and the details of the demolition. Six people were killed when a wall of the building being demolished collapsed onto the Salvation Army thrift store next door June 5.

The suit also says that because Campbell did not pay a policy premium in April, the insurance policy was canceled and not in effect on the day of the collapse.

Also named as defendants are Richard Basciano, who owned the building that fell onto the shop, and the 11 injured victims who have sued Basciano, Campbell, and their firms. The grounds for including the victims among the defendants were not included in the complaint.

Berkley is asking the court to confirm that the policy is either canceled or void and that the company is not obliged to provide any payouts demanded in response to the collapse.

According to Berkley, Campbell's insurance policy expired May 1 because Campbell and his firm failed to pay a premium due April 6. An agreement between Campbell and Skipjack Premium Finance Co., the Maryland firm that financed the policy, said a default and subsequent cancellation would occur when a payment was not made.

Berkley's suit additionally contends that the coverage was based on fraudulent information provided by Campbell on his application, submitted this year. Campbell misrepresented his length of experience, his criminal and bankruptcy record, and his previous insurance policies, warranties, and agreements, according to Berkley.

He also failed to disclose that an excavator would be used and that the job site was not sufficiently secured, the suit says. If Campbell had responded to the application honestly, Berkley would not have issued the policy, the suit says.

Berkley also says in the suit that the specific terms and definitions of its policy exclude coverage for the bodily injuries and property damage claimed by the victims of the collapse.

The insurance company is represented by Gale White, a Philadelphia casualty insurance lawyer.

Campbell's attorney, Kenneth Edelin, was not immediately available for comment Tuesday evening.


Contact Theodore Schleifer at 215-854-5607, tschleifer@philly.com, or @teddyschleifer on Twitter.

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