Nicholas Malfitano Feb. 5, 2016, 11:38am


PHILADELPHIA – Counsel for a Conshohocken-based insurance company seeks summary judgment against a former policy-holder accusing it of breach of contract, while the policy holder’s counsel seeks to exit the litigation.

Defense attorney Shawn A. Ricci filed a motion for summary judgment on Dec. 28, stating the fire occurring at Philadelphia plaintiff Georgianna Leak’s home was caused by an “electrical short circuit due to improper connection/installation of an illegal service drop line to the property," according to a forensic engineer.

Ricci alleged the plaintiff did not cooperate with the investigation or examinations under oath conducted by defendant Hanover Fire & Casualty Insurance Company, and the specific reason for the plaintiff’s losses excludes her from coverage by Hanover.

Further, plaintiff counsel Stephen J. Buividas filed a motion to withdraw his appearance on Jan. 4, due to disagreements with Leak on how to proceed in the lawsuit, and alleged violations of Rule 1.16 (a) and (b) 1-7, of the Rules of Professional Conduct. In order to explain these circumstances, Buividas requested an in camera or ex parte hearing to protect attorney-client privilege.

A hearing in this matter was set for Wednesday in Court chambers, at Philadelphia City Hall.

On Jan. 12, 2014, Leak’s home and property were damaged in a structure fire. At the time of the fire, Leak’s home was insured by Hanover for damages caused to her dwelling and personal property contents, in the event of a fire. Along with Silverline Adjustment Inc., they notified Hanover of the event and an estimated loss of $100,000.

According to the plaintiff, Hanover made “overly broad and burdensome document requests” (given some of the requested documents were already in Hanover’s possession) and cancelled Leak’s policy on June 17, 2014. In response to Hanover’s alleged failure to settle, investigate and/or adjust the plaintiff’s claim, Leak sued Hanover for breach of contract/express warranty.

The plaintiff is seeking judgment plus interest, attorney’s fees, costs of suit and other relief in this case.

The plaintiff is represented by Buividas in Cherry Hill, N.J.

The defendant is represented by Christian P. LaBletta, John J. Donnelly and Ricci of Donnelly & Associates, in Conshohocken.

Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas case 150101243

From the Pennsylvania Record: Reach Courts Reporter Nicholas Malfitano at nickpennrecord@gmail.com

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