OKLAHOMA CITY - An insurance company must provide coverage for two contractors under two commercial general liability policies because the language in the policies does not exclude coverage for their work as home builders rather than as roofers, a federal judge in Oklahoma ruled Nov. 9 in denying the insurer's motion for summary judgment (James River Insurance Company v. 5 Star Integrity Roofing & Exteriors, LLC, et al., No. CIV-16-950-M, W.D. Okla., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 185945).
DETROIT - Finding that tenants' use of an insured's commercial property units to grow marijuana was illegal or at the very least dishonest, a Michigan federal judge on Nov. 8 held that coverage for the insured's losses arising from this activity is barred by an insurance policy's illegal/dishonest acts provision, as well as two other policy exclusions (K.V.G. Properties Inc. v. Westfield Insurance Co., No. 16-11561, E.D. Mich., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 185005).
SANTA ANA, Calif. - A California appeals panel on Nov. 6 affirmed a lower court's finding that commercial general liability insurers have no duty to defend pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors against two underling lawsuits alleging that they engaged in a fraudulent scheme to promote the use of opioids for long-term pain to increase corporate profits, finding that the underlying actions can be read only as being based on the insureds' deliberate and intentional conduct that produced injuries that were neither unexpected nor unforeseen (The Traveler's Property Casualty Company of America, et al. v. Actavis Inc., et al., No. G053749, Calif. App., 4th Dist., Div. 3, 2017 Cal. App. LEXIS 976).
NEW ORLEANS - A Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Nov. 7 affirmed a federal judge in Louisiana's ruling requiring a commercial barge company to reimburse the government for $20 million in cleanup costs it incurred following a July 2008 oil spill that occurred in the Mississippi River, finding that the defendant company was not entitled to a defense under the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA) (United States of America v. American Commercial Lines, LLC, No. 16-31150, 5th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 22260).
CONCORD, N.H. - A commercial general liability insurer has no duty to defend an insured in an underlying breach of contract lawsuit seeking damages only for uncovered defective workmanship, a New Hampshire federal judge ruled Oct. 24 (Patriot Insurance Co. v. Holmes Carpet Center LLC, et al., No. 17-73, D. N.H., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 175643).
ATLANTA - The 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Oct. 19 held that a commercial general liability insurance policy's professional services exclusion bars coverage for an underlying wrongful death lawsuit alleging that the insured negligently designed and constructed the intersection where a fatal accident occurred (Witkin Design Group, Inc. v. Travelers Property Casualty Company of America, No. 17-10478, 11th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 20431).
ORLANDO, Fla. - In an Oct. 12 brief in Florida federal court, a commercial general liability insurer opposes a motion for judgment as to its duty to defend in a data breach coverage dispute, arguing that the hotel that experienced the breach, which is claiming resulting losses, is not an insured under the policy (St. Paul Fire & Marine Insurance Co. v. Rosen Millennium Inc., No. 6:17-cv-00540, M.D. Fla.).
WAUSAU, Wis. - A Wisconsin appeals panel on Oct. 11 affirmed a lower court's ruling that a commercial general liability insurance policy's $2 million aggregate limit applied in a coverage dispute over a forest fire that burned thousands of acres of land, but reversed and remanded for a factual determination on the issue of damages relevant to coverage under the logging company's umbrella insurance policy (Secura Insurance v. Lyme St. Croix Forest Company, LLC, et al., No. 2016AP299, Wis. App., Div. 3, 2017 Wisc. App. LEXIS 791).
FORT MYERS, Fla. - A commercial general liability insurer filed its declaratory judgment action on its duty to indemnify an underlying construction defects case prematurely, a Florida federal judge ruled Oct. 5, dismissing the case (Mid-Continent Casualty Co. v. G.R. Construction Management Inc., et al., No. 17-55, M.D. Fla., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 165245).
PHILADELPHIA - A commercial general liability insurer did not breach its insurance contract nor did it act in bad faith in denying a claim, a Pennsylvania federal judge ruled Sept. 29 because "deleterious substances" exclusion precluded coverage for grout dust from construction work that led to property damage (Collin R. Ginther v. Preferred Contractors Insurance Company Risk Retention Group LLC, No. 16-686, E.D. Pa., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 161720).
HOUSTON - A Texas federal judge on Sept. 13 found that an underlying lawsuit alleging that an insured failed to timely negotiate a commercial lease agreement triggered an insurer's duty to defend, granting the insured's motion for summary judgment in a coverage dispute (2200 West Alabama, Inc v. Western World Insurance Co., No. 16-2244, S.D. Texas, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 148492).
WICHITA, Kan. - An insured seeking coverage for hailstorm damage to two commercial buildings is permitted to amend its complaint to add claims for breach of contract and bad faith because the addition of the claims would not be futile and the insurers will not be prejudiced as a result of the amendment, a Kansas federal judge said Sept. 8 (Flex Financial Holding Co. v. OneBeacon Insurance Group LLC et al., No. 15-7205, D. Kan., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 145349).
MOBILE, Ala. - An Alabama federal judge on Sept. 6 held that a building owner insured has failed to satisfy its burden of establishing that an exception to a deluxe property policy's rain limitation applies, concluding that neither the property policy nor a commercial general liability insurance policy covers the insured's damages arising from a roof leak caused by 2.43 inches of rain (Travelers Property Casualty Company of America v. Brookwood, LLC, No. 15-01016, N.D. Ala., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 143894).
COLUMBUS, Ohio - While the majority of the Ohio Supreme Court on Sept. 5 dismissed an appeal in a case over coverage under a commercial general liability insurance policy for construction defects, a dissenting justice wrote that the policy does not define "occurs" with regard to the requirement that the property damage occur during the policy period (Lightning Rod Mutual Insurance Co. v. Robert Southworth, et al., No. 2016-1116, Ohio Sup., 2017 Ohio LEXIS 1660).
PHILADELPHIA - Granting commercial general liability insurers' motion for summary judgment in a breach of contract lawsuit, a Pennsylvania federal judge held Aug. 31 that underlying construction defects claims against insureds fail to amount to an "occurrence" under the policies and that the "real estate development activities-completed operations" exclusion further bars coverage (Northridge Village LP, et al. v. Travelers Indemnity Co. of Connecticut, et al., No. 15-1947, E.D. Pa., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 140541).
SAN DIEGO - A California appeals panel on Aug. 30 reversed a lower court's $471,313.52 award of attorney fees and resultant $500,000 punitive damages awards against a commercial general liability insurer in a construction defects insurance dispute, finding that the attorney fees award is inconsistent with the damages principles and policies established in Brandt v. Superior Court (1985) 37 Cal.3d 813 (Pulte Home Corp. v. American Safety Indemnity Co., No. D070478, Calif., App., 4th Dist., Div. 1, 2017 Cal. App. LEXIS 748).
PIERRE, S.D. - A commercial general liability insurer had a duty to defend an insured because the underlying allegations arguably state a covered claim, the South Dakota Supreme Court ruled Aug. 30, finding that the policy bars only the faulty work itself, not damage to other nondefective work (Lowery Construction & Concrete LLC v. Owners Insurance Co., No. 27946, S.D. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court on Aug. 25 refused to reconsider its denial of a petition for a writ of certiorari seeking to reverse a California appellate court's finding that a commercial general liability insurance policy's employment-related practices (ERP) exclusion bars coverage for all claims alleged against an insured and its employee arising from alleged sexual harassment and assault (Alana Munoz v. Golden Eagle Insurance Corp., No. 16-1245, U.S. Sup.).
LOS ANGELES - Commercially available insulation, and not the working prototype of a U.S. Navy nuclear propulsion system on which it was applied, is the focus of a widow's case, a federal judge in California held Aug. 21 in reversing course and remanding an asbestos case originally removed under the government contractor statute (Wayne Yocum, et al. v. CBS Corp., et al., No. 17-1061, C.D. Calif., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 133418).
TAMPA, Fla. - A Florida federal magistrate on Aug. 18 signed an order granting a joint motion to stay trial and pretrial deadlines pending approval of a settlement in a fax ads coverage dispute the same day she denied the commercial general liability insurer's motion in limine seeking to exclude three categories of evidence and testimony from trial (Zurich American Insurance Co. v. European Tile and Floors, Inc., et al., No. 16-729, M.D. Fla., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 132029).
DALLAS - A Texas federal judge on Aug. 15 granted an insured's motion to dismiss its commercial insurer's declaratory judgment lawsuit disputing coverage for alleged storm damage to the insured's motel, finding that the majority of the factors in Brillhart v. Excess Ins. Co. of Am., 316 U.S. 491, 495, 62 S. Ct. 1173, 86 L. Ed. 1620 (1942), weigh in favor of dismissal (GuideOne National Insurance Company v. Bhav Harri, LLC, No. 16-00740, N.D. Texas, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 129473).
BROOKLYN, N.Y. - A New York federal judge on Aug. 3 granted an insured's motion for partial summary judgment by declaring that it is entitled to independent counsel in an underlying trademark infringement lawsuit insofar as the underlying action involves claims for punitive damages, denying a commercial general liability insurer's motion to dismiss the insured's breach of contract suit (Med-Plus, Inc. v. American Casualty Company of Reading, PA, No. 16-2985, E.D. N.Y., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 123553).