Evidence that the Defendant Intentionally Shot the Plaintiff Must be Ignored Because Plaintiff Alternatively Pleaded Negligence When Deciding Duty to Defend

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It is axiomatic that the duty to defend is broader than the duty to indemnify. However, every liability policy excludes coverage for the intentional act of shooting a plaintiff in the stomach with a gun. However, in Pennsylvania, where the four corners rule of policy interpretation applies, when a plaintiff alleges both intentional and negligent acts, regardless of actual facts, the insurer must defend the shooter. In Michael D’Imperio v. Nationwide.


The four corners rule is a creation to provide coverage for defense that an insurer never intended to insure and to require a defense for the most intentional of all acts: shooting a plaintiff in the stomach. Evidence provided to the court established the shooting was intentional but the court concluded it could not consider the extrinsic evidence and must limit its analysis to the pleading. Coverage for a defense in states like Pennsylvania ignores evidence and limits itself to the charges regardless of how ridiculous were the allegations and contrary to the actual facts.