Appellant Griffin, after sustaining severe personal injuries when a plane piloted by Kevin Jensen crashed into Griffin’s yard, sued Jensen in Nevada state court. Jensen carried an Old Republic Insurance Company aviation policy for the plane. The Old Republic aviation insurance application contained a clause, which Jensen initialed, stating that the aircraft would not be covered “unless a standard airworthiness certificate is in full force and effect.” Further, the policy excluded coverage when “the Airworthiness certificate of the aircraft is not in full force and effect” or when “the aircraft has not been subjected to the appropriate airworthiness inspection(s) as required under current applicable Federal Air Regulations for the operations involved.” When Jensen purchased the policy he possessed a current airworthiness certificate. However, at the time of the crash, the airworthiness certificate had lapsed. Old Republic sought declaratory judgment in United States District Court of the District of Nevada claiming it had no obligation to pay damages to either Griffin or Jensen because the policy expressly excluded coverage without a current airworthiness certificate. Griffin maintained that Old Republic should not be able to avoid liability because no causal relationship existed between the lapse in the certificate and the loss incurred. The federal district court granted summary judgment to Old Republic because Nevada law did not require a causal relationship between the exclusion clause and the loss. Griffin appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The Ninth Circuit submitted a certified question of law to the Nevada Supreme Court, which this opinion addressed.
Gilbert, Jacqueline A., "Summary of Griffin v. Old Republic Ins. Co., 122 Nev. Adv. Op. 42" (2006). Nevada Supreme Court Summaries. 536.