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Supreme Court of Nevada
October 28, 2021, Filed
[*626] BEFORE THE SUPREME COURT, EN BANC.
By the Court, HERNDON, J.:
Two federal district courts issued conflicting decisions regarding whether, in Nevada, the insured or the insurer has the burden of proving that an exception to an exclusion of coverage provision applies. Those cases were appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, and that court certified the following questions to this court:
Whether, under Nevada law, the burden of proving the applicability of an exception to an exclusion of coverage in an insurance policy falls on the insurer or the insured? Whichever party bears such a burden, [**2] may it rely on evidence extrinsic to the complaint to carry its burden, and if so, is it limited to extrinsic evidence available at the time the insured tendered the defense of the lawsuit to the insurer?
] We conclude that the burden of proving the applicability of an exception to an exclusion for coverage in an insurance policy falls on the insured. We further conclude that the insured may rely on any extrinsic evidence that was available to the insurer at the time the insured tendered the defense to the insurer.
FACTS AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
Throughout the 2000s, thousands of homes in Nevada were built by subcontractors under the direction of several development companies.1 During that period, these subcontractors were insured by appellants Zurich American Insurance Company and [*627] American Guarantee and Liability Insurance Company (collectively, Zurich). After the work on the homes was completed, the subcontractors switched insurers, obtaining insurance from respondent Ironshore Specialty Insurance Company (Ironshore). Ironshore's policy insured the subcontractors against damages attributed to bodily injury or property damage that occurred during the new policy period. The policy provides [**3] that if the insured becomes legally obligated to pay damages because of bodily injury or property damage that qualifies under the policy, Ironshore will pay those sums. It further provides that Ironshore will have the right and duty to defend the insured if the suit seeks damages to which the policy applies. The policy applies only if the bodily injury or property damage is caused by an occurrence within the coverage territory and applicable policy period.
The Ironshore policy contains a "Continuous or Progressive Injury or Damage Exclusion" that modifies the insurance coverage provided under the policy. The exclusion provides that the policy does not apply to any existing bodily injury or property damage, except for "sudden and accidental" property damage:
Full case includes Shepard's, Headnotes, Legal Analytics from Lex Machina, and more.
497 P.3d 625 *; 2021 Nev. LEXIS 64 **; 137 Nev. Adv. Rep. 66
ZURICH AMERICAN INSURANCE COMPANY; AND AMERICAN GUARANTEE AND LIABILITY INSURANCE COMPANY, Appellants, vs. IRONSHORE SPECIALTY INSURANCE COMPANY, Respondent.
Prior History: Certified questions under NRAP 5 [**1] concerning the allocation of burdens of proof for the applicability of an exception to an exclusion in an insurance policy. United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit; Marsha S. Berzon and Sandra S. Ikuta, Circuit Judges, and Ivan L.R. Lemelle, District Judge.
Zurich Am. Ins. Co. v. Ironshore Specialty Ins. Co., 964 F.3d 804, 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 20815, 2020 WL 3581732 (9th Cir., July 2, 2020)
Disposition: Questions answered.
insured, coverage, duty to defend, burden of proof, insurance policy, property damage, subcontractors, sudden and accidental, bears, duty to indemnify, falls, extrinsic facts, initial burden, bodily injury, indemnification, extrinsic, questions, lawsuits
Evidence, Burdens of Proof, Allocation, Insurance Law, Commercial General Liability Insurance, Exclusions, Burdens of Proof, Policy Interpretation, Parol Evidence, Extrinsic Evidence, Claim, Contract & Practice Issues, Claims Made Policies, Exclusions, Civil Procedure, Appeals, Appellate Jurisdiction, Certified Questions, Standards of Review, De Novo Review, Property Insurance, Obligations, Duty to Defend, Entire Contract, Business Insurance, Indemnification, Liability & Performance Standards, Good Faith & Fair Dealing, Motor Vehicle Insurance, Ambiguous Terms, Coverage Favored, Coverage, Accidental Injuries, Procedure, Evidence & Trial, Obligations of Parties, Insurers, Allegations in Complaints