SAN FRANCISCO — A residential developments and condominium exclusion relieves a commercial general liability insurer of any duty to defend to contractors in an underlying breach of contract dispute involving a condominium project, a California federal judge ruled April 15 (Colony Insurance Co. v. Mt. Hawley Insurance Co., et al., No. 18-00519, N.D. Calif., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 64407).
ST. LOUIS — The Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on April 12 affirmed a lower federal court’s $1,020,000 judgment in favor of a general contractor’s surety for the full amount of a subcontractor’s surety performance bond in a dispute over costs arising from the subcontractor’s default in completing a federal government construction project (United States of America for the use of Wesco Distribution, Inc. v. Liberty Mutual Insurance Company, No. 18-1455, 8th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 10919).
NEW YORK — The Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on April 15 issued amended summary orders in two separate cases filed by homeowners who seek coverage for deteriorating and cracking basement walls in Connecticut homes, reiterating that the policies’ collapse provision does not provide coverage for the defective foundation walls because there was no sudden and accidental collapse as required by the policies (Glenn R. Carlson, et al. v. Allstate Insurance Co., No. 17-3501, 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 10948; Alan D. Lees, et al. v. Allstate Insurance Co., No. 18-007, 2nd Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 10949).
RALEIGH, N.C. — Two subcontractor insurers owed a duty to defend a general contractor as an additional insured and as primary, noncontributory insurers in an underlying construction defects case, a North Carolina federal judge ruled April 11, granting summary judgment to the general contractor’s insurers (Westfield Insurance Co. v. Weaver Cooke Construction LLC, et al., No. 15-00169, E.D. N.C., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 62208).
ATLANTA — Finding that the “your work” exclusion does not apply to property damage caused during ongoing operations, the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on April 11 vacated and remanded a ruling that a commercial general liability insurer has no duty to defend or indemnify a construction defects case based on that exclusion (Southern-Owners Insurance Co. v. MAC Contractors of Florida LLC, et al., No. 18-13040, 11th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 10689).
HOUSTON — An insurer sued another insurer on April 10 in a Texas federal court, seeking a declaration of defense obligations for a mutual insured in underlying construction defects cases (Navigators Specialty Insurance Co. v. First Mercury Insurance Co., No. 19-1304, S.D. Texas).
SEATTLE — A trial judge erred in concluding that the only reasonable interpretation of “decay” under an insurance policy is one that indicates some kind of decomposition of the material, a Washington appeals panel held April 8, reversing the entry of summary judgment to an insurer in a coverage dispute following a partial collapse of an insured’s building (Feenix Parkside LLC v. Berkley North Pacific, et al., No. 77303-8-I, Wash. App., Div. 1, 2019 Wash. App. LEXIS 823).
BOSTON — Fact issues remain on a subrogated insurer’s negligence and breach of warranty claims based on an alleged manufacturing defect in a heating system, a Massachusetts federal judge ruled April 4, denying summary judgment on these claims (Arbella Mutual Insurance Co. v. Field Controls LLC, et al., No. 16-10656, D. Mass., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 58319).
PENSACOLA, Fla. — Two subcontractor insurers have no duty to defend a general contractor against defective work allegations, a Florida federal judge held March 30, addressing summary judgment motions raised by several insurers, including the subrogated insurer to the general contractor, over their liability (BITCO National Insurance Co. v. Old Dominion Insurance Co., et al., No. 17-262, BITCO National Insurance Co. v. Southern-Owners Insurance Co., et al., No. 17-326, N.D. Fla., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 54908).
By Thomas F. Segalla, Michael T. Glascott, Ashlyn M. Capote and Brandon D. Zeller
NEW YORK — The Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on April 2 affirmed three district court rulings in favor of a homeowners insurer in three separate cases seeking coverage for deteriorating and cracking basement walls in Connecticut homes after determining that the policies’ collapse provision does not provide coverage for the defective foundation walls because there was no sudden and accidental collapse as required by the policies (William A. Valls et al., v. Allstate Insurance Co., No. 17-3495, 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 9596; Glenn R. Carlson, et al., v. Allstate Insurance Co., No. 17-3501, 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 9586; Alan D. Lees et al., v. Allstate Insurance Co., No. 18-007, 2nd Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 9585).
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Following a reversal and remand of an insurance coverage dispute from the 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, a Kansas federal judge on March 29 denied an excess insurer’s motion for summary judgment as to whether certain policy exclusions precluded coverage for defective jet bubble reactors (JBRs) that were constructed by subcontractors, with the judge finding many of the insurer’s arguments foreclosed by the appeals court’s ruling (Black & Veatch Corp. v. Aspen Insurance [UK] Ltd., et al., No. 2:12-cv-02350, D. Kan., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 54021).
MIAMI — A federal judge in Florida issued a slew of evidentiary and expert witness rulings on March 29 as an insurer defends claims that it improperly failed to defend its insured from construction defect claims (MI Windows & Doors LLC, et al. v. Liberty Mutual Fire Insurance Co., No. 14-3139, M.D. Fla., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 54058).
BOSTON — A Massachusetts federal judge on March 31 found that a commercial general liability insurer has no duty to defend its construction company insured against an underlying lawsuit, finding that the damage to the insured’s foundation, whether an accident or not, falls under the scope of a policy exclusion (Mills Construction Corporation, Inc., et al. v. Nautilus Insurance Company, No. 18-10549, D. Mass., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 55256).
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A commercial general liability insurer was granted a default judgment against its insureds on March 25 by a North Carolina federal judge in its declaratory judgment lawsuit regarding two construction defect cases (Pennsylvania National Mutual Casualty Insurance Co. v. Jose Castillo, et al., No. 18-00271, W.D. N.C., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 49319).
ROANOKE, Va. — Because there was no “occurrence,” a Virginia federal magistrate judge on March 29 found that an insurer has no duty to defend or indemnify its insured for any award over damage to a piece of equipment the insured provided for a construction project (Western World Insurance Co. v. Air Tech Inc., No. 17-518, W.D. Va., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 53683).
NEW HAVEN, Conn. — No coverage is afforded under two homeowners policies for cracking and deteriorating basement walls caused by the use of defective concrete because one of the policies includes an exclusion for cracking caused by the use of defective construction materials and the other policy provides coverage only for sudden and abrupt collapses, a Connecticut federal judge said March 29 (Frank V. Huschle, et al. v. Allstate Insurance Co., et. al., No. 18-248, D. Conn., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 53978).
SAN DIEGO — A commercial general liability insurer has no duty to defend or indemnify insureds for costs incurred to investigate and repair alleged defects at a military training facility, a California federal judge ruled March 28, finding that no “suit” had been filed (Harper Construction Company Inc., et al. v. National Union Fire Insurance Company of Pittsburgh, PA, No. 18-00471, S.D. Calif., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 53183).
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A trial court erred in denying summary disposition to an insurer on the basis that there were factual issues as to whether faulty installation caused an “occurrence,” a Michigan appeals panel ruled March 19 (Skanska USA Building Inc. v M.A.P. Mechanical Contractors Inc., et al., Nos. 340871 & 341589, Mich. App., 2019 Mich. App. LEXIS 529).
BOSTON — A trial judge erred in finding that an insured’s work on concrete slab was inseparable from other subcontractors’ work on other layers of a flooring system and in ruling that an insurer had no duty to defend or indemnify, the Massachusetts Appeals Court held March 19, vacating judgment and remanding for further proceedings (All America Insurance Co. v. Lampasona Concrete Corp., No. 18-P-247, Mass. App., 2019 Mass. App. LEXIS 34).