The Buckeye State Bucks Recent Trend: Ohio Supreme Court Holds That Property Damage Caused by a Subcontractor’s Faulty Work Does Not Constitute an “Occurrence” Covered Under CGL Policies

Ohio N. Univ. v. Charles Constr. Servs., 2018 Ohio LEXIS 2375 (Oct. 9, 2018)

This post was published in the National Association of Credit Management eNews on December 20, 2018.

This case arose out of the construction of an inn and conference center at Ohio Northern University (“ONU”).  After completion of the project, ONU discovered water damage and structural defects in the work and filed suit for breach of contract against its general contractor, Charles Construction Services, Inc. (“Charles”).  Charles, in turn, sought defense and indemnity from its commercial general liability insurer, Cincinnati Insurance Company (“CIC”).  As required by ONU, Charles’s policy contained a “products-completed operations-hazard” (“PCOH”) clause and terms specifically related to work performed by subcontractors.  Under Charles’ policy, the insurance covered “property damage” only if it was caused by an “occurrence,” defined as “[a]n accident, including continuous or repeated exposure to substantially the same general harmful conditions.”  “Accident,” however, was not defined.  CIC intervened in ONU’s suit, seeking a declaratory judgment that it was not required to defend or indemnify Charles.

The trial court granted CIC summary judgment, holding that CIC had no duty to indemnify or defend Charles.  The trial court based its holding on Westfield Inc. Co. v. Custom Agri Sys., Inc., 979 N.E.2d 269, a 2012 decision in which the Ohio Supreme Court concluded that claims for faulty workmanship are not fortuitous, and therefore, not claims for “property damage” caused by an “occurrence” covered by a CGL policy. Continue reading “The Buckeye State Bucks Recent Trend: Ohio Supreme Court Holds That Property Damage Caused by a Subcontractor’s Faulty Work Does Not Constitute an “Occurrence” Covered Under CGL Policies”

Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, Applying Kentucky Law, Holds Subcontractor’s Allegedly Faulty Construction of a Building Pad and the Resulting Damages Is Not an “Occurrence” Under a Commercial General Liability Policy

Liberty Mut. Fire Ins. Co. v. Kay & Kay Contr.
2013 U.S. App. LEXIS 23587 (6th Cir. Nov. 19, 2013)

This action arose out of a commercial general liability (“CGL”) policy issued by Liberty Mutual Fire Insurance Co. (“Liberty Mutual”) to MW Builders, Inc. (“MW Builders”) and Kay and Kay Contracting, LLC (“Kay & Kay”) for the construction of a Wal-Mart store in Morehead, Kentucky. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (“Wal-Mart”) contracted with MW Builders as general contractor for the construction of the building. MW Builders then entered into a subcontract with Kay & Kay to perform site preparation work and construct the building pad beneath the structure. Liberty Mutual issued the CGL policy to Kay & Kay, with MW Builders as an additional insured (the “Policy”). The Policy was the standard ISO (Insurance Services Office, Inc.) policy containing the standard coverage language. Specifically, the Policy provided: “This insurance applies to ‘bodily injury’ and ‘property damage’ only if… [t]he ‘bodily injury’ or ‘property damage’ is caused by an ‘occurrence’ that takes place in the ‘coverage territory’…” The Policy defined “occurrence” to mean “an accident, including continuous or repeated exposure to substantially the same general harmful conditions.” The term “accident” was not defined in the Policy.

Continue reading “Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, Applying Kentucky Law, Holds Subcontractor’s Allegedly Faulty Construction of a Building Pad and the Resulting Damages Is Not an “Occurrence” Under a Commercial General Liability Policy”

PA Court Rules Coverage For Defectively Manufactured Wheel Barred By “Business Risk” Exclusion of CGL Policy

Plasticert, Inc. v. Westfield Insurance Company
2007 Pa.Super 124, 2007 Pa.Super.LEXIS 820 (Pa.Super Ct., May 1, 2007)

Plasticert manufactures thermoplastic wheels used in gravity flow product lines. A customer sued it because wheels that the customer purchased were breaking and cracking, and were determined not to have been manufactured to the customer’s specifications.

Plasticert carried general commercial liability (“CGL”) insurance and an umbrella policy both issued by Westfield Insurance Company. Plasticert filed a declaratory judgment action against Westfield, to determine, inter alia, coverage under the policies. The trial court determined, and the parties conceded, that the exclusionary language in both policies was similar so that the outcome of the instant matter would be the same under both policies. Continue reading “PA Court Rules Coverage For Defectively Manufactured Wheel Barred By “Business Risk” Exclusion of CGL Policy”