Florida Bridge Collapse Resolution Offers Workaround for Multiple Claimant Scenarios

A recent bankruptcy plan filed by Munilla Construction Management (MCM)–the general contractor for the failed pedestrian bridge at Florida International University (FIU)–paves the way for judicially recognized interpleader-type scenarios allowing insurers to resolve multiple-claimant incidents where there may be insufficient policy limits. On November 15, 2018, the Southern District of Florida Bankruptcy Court agreed to expedite a process that would allow victims of the pedestrian bridge collapse to start receiving compensation payouts following the creation of a victim’s fund.

By way of background, a pedestrian …

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Pennsylvania Federal Court Reinforces The Principle That Liability Policies Insure Against Legal Obligations Owed To Others

Defense and indemnity obligations owed under liability policies depend on the allegations made in the underlying lawsuit. In NVR, Inc. v. Motorists Mut. Ins. Co., 2019 WL 989393 (W.D. Pa. Mar. 1, 2019), NVR, an additional insured under a CGL policy sought coverage for two lawsuits that arose out of a heater explosion at a construction site. NVR was the defendant in personal injury litigation. In a separate lawsuit, NVR sought recovery for property damage that it incurred due to the explosion. The personal injury lawsuit …

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Contractual Liability Exclusion Defeats General Contractor’s Bid Against Six Insurers for Defense and Indemnity in West Virginia

West Virginia’s highest court recently handed down a well-articulated decision on the scope of a CGL policy’s insuring agreement and exclusion for contractual liability, which could be influential to other courts who struggle with these commonly-litigated issues.

On May 1, 2019, the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals unanimously upheld summary judgment to six insurance companies in a declaratory judgment action relating to a property developer’s suit against its general contractor over construction defects at a shopping center. The insurers had issued a series of …

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Can You Depreciate Labor? Tennessee Supreme Court Says No.

When calculating the actual cash value (ACV) amount of property damage, the labor component cannot be depreciated according to the Tennessee Supreme Court in a unanimous decision answering a certified question.  Lammert, et. al v. Auto-Owners (Mutual) Ins. Co., 2019 WL 1592687 (Tenn. April 15, 2019).

At issue were two homeowner policies, one policy which contained a definition of ACV and the other which did not, but neither policy explicitly stated whether labor costs were included within the scope of depreciation. While it was …

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Property Damage Repairs Prior to Notice of Loss to Insurer Forfeits Coverage

A recent Florida appellate opinion gives more teeth to repercussions for failing to give timely notice of a property damage loss to an insurer. In De la Rosa v. Florida Peninsula Insurance Company, 2018 WL 2246781 (Fla. 4th DCA 2018), a plumbing leak in the insureds’ residence resulted in interior water damage. Rather than report the claim immediately to the insurer, the insureds first completed all of the repairs. While the insureds retained some of the damaged plumbing components they failed to preserve them, …

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Pennsylvania Court Rejects Manifestation Trigger for Latent Property Damage Claims

The Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania recently determined that the multiple trigger rule, and not the manifestation rule, is the proper standard to use when determining whether an insurance policy is triggered in an environmental property damage claim involving a long latency period between exposure and manifestation. See Pennsylvania Manufacturers’ Association Insurance Company v. Johnson Matthey, Inc., et al., 2017 WL 1418401 (Pa. Commw. Ct. Apr. 21, 2017), This decision, which is at odds with statements by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court is a 2014 …

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Court Finds Ambiguity Over When Property Damage Commenced

Ambiguity surrounding the term “commencing” led a court to deny an insurer’s motion seeking to dismiss an insured’s property damage claim, despite the insured’s inability to state when the property damage at issue first occurred. In a question of first impression, a federal district court in Illinois denied an insurer’s motion for summary judgment earlier this month, ruling that the term “commencing” during the policy period was ambiguous when applied to the circumstances of the case. Temperature Serv. Co. v. Acuity, 2016 U.S. Dist. …

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No, No, No: No Accident, No Property Damage, No Duty to Defend Under Illinois Law

Westfield Insurance Co. v. West Van Buren, LLC, et al., 2016 IL App (1st) 140862 represents a continuation of Illinois law in the context of an insurer’s duty to defend construction defect claims. As articulated in Westfield, accidental events are required to trigger a duty to defend and shoddy workmanship does not constitute property damage. In addition, since the underlying complaint did not seek damages for any personal property damage, the Illinois Appellate Court held Westfield Insurance Company had no duty to defend …

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It’s Not a Blob, It’s a Probiotic: Wisconsin Supreme Court Applies the “Integrated Systems” Rule in Coverage Dispute

In Wisconsin Pharmacal Company, LLC v. Nebraska Cultures of California, Inc., 2016 WI 14, the Wisconsin Supreme Court applied the “integrated systems” rule to a coverage dispute. In a narrow decision, it reversed the Court of Appeals decision and determined that the incorporation of a defective ingredient into a tablet did not constitute “property damage” caused by an “occurrence.” Further, the Wisconsin Supreme Court concluded that even if “property damage” was alleged, exclusions would apply to bar coverage.

The coverage dispute arose when a …

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Earth, Wind, and Water: New York Court Enforces Anti-Concurrency Clause In Superstorm Sandy Case

In Clarke v. Travco Insurance Company, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 104267 (SDNY, August 7, 2015), a federal judge sitting for the United States District Court, Southern District of New York granted a homeowners insurer summary judgment in a dispute with its policyholder regarding coverage for a Superstorm Sandy claim.

The homeowner was insured for first-party property damage to his home pursuant to a standard homeowners policy. His home, located near the Hudson River, sustained damage as a result of flood water during the storm. …

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