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Vitamin Energy LLC v. Evanston Insurance Co

Pennsylvania law imposes on insurers a broad duty to defend lawsuits brought against those they insure. Vitamin Energy, LLC, obtained a policy from Evanston Insurance Company and was subsequently sued by a competitor, the owners of the 5-hour Energy brand, for publishing certain comparative claims and infringing the 5-hour Energy mark in advertising and packaging. The District Court decided Evanston had no duty to defend. We think otherwise. An insured’s burden to establish its insurer’s duty to defend is light, and Vitamin Energy has carried it. Read liberally in favor of coverage, as is required, the 5-hour Energy complaint and the insurance policy impose on Evanston a duty to defend Vitamin Energy in the underlying suit, at least until there is no possibility that 5-hour Energy could prevail against Vitamin Energy on a claim covered by the policy. Likewise, the coverage exclusions raised by Evanston are construed in favor of coverage, and we cannot say, at this point, that they eliminate the duty to defend. Accordingly, we will vacate and remand.

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