Summary judgment application to determine the meaning of the word “load” in the following exclusion clause: “The weight of the load exceeding the registered lifting or supporting capacity of any machine.” The insured owned an articulating boom lift that was damaged when the operator used the boom in an attempt to lever the lift out of mud in which it was stuck. The court concluded the word “load” meant more than the weight in the manbasket and would include external resistance being applied to the lift or overall force to which the lift was being subjected. Accordingly, the exclusion clause was engaged and the insured’s claim was dismissed.

[2015] S.J. No. 25

2015 SKQB 3

Saskatchewan Court of Queen’s Bench

R.S. Smith J.

January 5, 2015

The insured and the insurer sought a determination of the applicability of an exclusion clause at a summary judgment application pursuant to Rule 7-5(1)(ii).

The insured was the owner of a JLG 800 articulating boom lift with a manbasket. The insurer issued an all risk policy of insurance to cover the insured’s construction business and equipment.

The lift became stuck in the mud at a construction site. The insured’s employee put the manbasket on the ground and extended the telescoping boom in an attempt to unstick the lift from the mud. The attempt failed and damaged the boom in the amount of $46,500.

The insurer conceded that the lift was insured under the policy but argued that the insured’s claim was barred by exclusion clause B(2)(d) which excluded claims for damage when the weight of the load exceeded the registered lifting or supporting capacity of any machine.

The maximum weight of the load of the lift was 500 pounds to 1,000 pounds depending on the boom length and angle. The weight of the lift was somewhere between 33,100 pounds and 34,270 pounds.

The insured argued that the meaning of “the weight of the load” meant the weight of the materials and/or workers hoisted by the lift. The insured submitted that the damage occurred when the boom was used as a lever and there was no specific overweight load being hoisted at the time of the loss.

The insurer argued the insured’s interpretation of the word “load” was simplistic. The insurer argued that “load” meant the amount of weight or pressure that something has to bear. As a result, when the lift was being used as a lever it was being used to move the lift which weighed between 33,100 pounds and 34,270 pounds. The insurer urged the court to look at the word “load” in the way that the word would be used in the normal commercial sense – what was the overall force to which the lift would be subjected in attempting to lever the lift out of the mud?

The court referred to several dictionary definitions of “load” and concluded that to restrict the word “load” to simply mean that which the lift was raising off the ground was too narrow an interpretation in the context of a policy covering construction equipment. The sensible commercial result was to interpret “load” in a way which would include external resistance being applied to the lift or overall force to which the lift was being subjected.

In this instance, the operator was using the boom as a lever to extract or move the lift from the mud. That act exceeded the registered lifting or supporting capacity of the lift. Accordingly, the exclusion clause was applicable and the insured’s claim was dismissed.