Justia Insurance Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Real Estate & Property Law
Endeavor Operating Co., LLC v. HDI Global Ins. Co.
Endeavor Operating Company, LLC (Endeavor) is a “holding company” that owns “various subsidiaries in the entertainment, sports, and fashion business sectors.” Endeavor sued the insurers for (1) declaratory relief and (2) breach of contract related to COVID-19 closures. The insurers demurred to the complaint. The trial court issued a ruling (1) sustaining the demurrer without leave to amend and (2) denying Endeavor’s motion for a new trial. The court modified its initial ruling to find that the “actual” or “threatened presence” of COVID-19 or the SARS-CoV-2 virus “does not constitute a physical loss or damage required to trigger coverage for property insurance coverage” but reaffirmed its initial ruling that the contamination/pollution exclusion applied, which in the court’s view obviated its need to address the argument Endeavor raised for the first time in its new trial motion. Endeavor appealed. The Second Appellate District affirmed. The court concluded that the insurance policy unambiguously requires “direct physical loss or damage to property” before Endeavor may recover under the business interruption clauses. The court held that Endeavor failed as a matter of law to plead “direct physical loss or damage to property.” The court explained that California courts are in accord that the phrase “direct physical loss or damage to property” means a “‘distinct, demonstrable, physical alteration’” of the insured property. This is the default definition to be applied where a policy does not provide a different definition of “direct physical loss or damage.” The policy here provides no different definition. View "Endeavor Operating Co., LLC v. HDI Global Ins. Co." on Justia Law
Gonzagowski v. Steamatic of Albuquerque
After Plaintiff’s home sustained water damage in a hailstorm, he asked his insurer Allstate to cover the loss; consequently, Steamatic was hired to perform water abatement and mold remediation services. Plaintiff claimed that the mold was not remediated properly and that he developed a severe and permanent lung condition as a result. New Mexico does not permit a civil plaintiff to recover duplicate compensatory damages for the same injuries. The collateral source rule presents an exception to the prohibition of double recovery, permitting a plaintiff to recover the same damages from both a defendant and a collateral source. The New Mexico Supreme Court has held that the payor of the prejudgment settlement of a claim qualifies as a collateral source and that the payment does not reduce the same damages the plaintiff may recover from an adjudicated wrongdoer. The issue this case presented for review centered on whether a payment in postjudgment settlement of a claim by an adjudicated wrongdoer qualified as a collateral source. The Court clarified that the collateral source rule had no application to a postjudgment payment made by an adjudicated wrongdoer. Here, the Court held that the payment, which Plaintiff received in a postjudgment settlement with Allstate satisfied a portion of Plaintiff’s damages and extinguished Plaintiff’s right to recover the same damages from Steamatic. The Court explained that the share of damages fully satisfied by Allstate must offset the damages Plaintiff may recover from Steamatic. View "Gonzagowski v. Steamatic of Albuquerque" on Justia Law
Nahant Preservation Trust, Inc. v. Mount Vernon Fire Insurance Co.
The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court granting United States Liability Insurance Group's (USLI) motion to dismiss this lawsuit brought by Nahant Preservation Trust, Inc. to secure insurance coverage in connection with defense costs and indemnification arising from a state court action brought by Northeastern University, holding that there was no error.Northeastern sued Nahant in state court seeking a declaratory judgment regarding its rights concerning certain land. Nahant, which carried liability insurance through USLI, did not notify USLI of the suit until it wrote to USLI seeking coverage for defense costs. USLI refused to provide coverage on the grounds that Nahant had provided untimely notice of the claim. Thereafter Nahant sued USLI seeking, among other things, a declaratory judgment regarding USLI's duty to defend and indemnify. The First circuit granted USLI's motion to dismiss, concluding that the "exclusion agreement" signed by the parties excluded coverage. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the district court properly accepted USLI's plausible reading of the exclusion amendment. View "Nahant Preservation Trust, Inc. v. Mount Vernon Fire Insurance Co." on Justia Law
CC 145 Main, LLC v. Union Mutual Fire Insurance Company
Defendant Union Mutual Fire Insurance Company appealed a superior court grant of summary judgment to plaintiff CC 145 Main, LLC, in a declaratory judgment action regarding the interpretation of an insurance policy exclusion. CC 145 Main owned an apartment building and purchased a “Businessowners Coverage” insurance policy that included “all risk” property insurance, which provided that Union Mutual would “pay for direct physical loss of or damage to” the covered property, unless coverage was specifically limited or excluded by the policy. The insured property sustained damage when a tenant poured cat litter down a toilet, clogging an interior pipe and causing water to overflow from a shower and toilet. The property required significant cleaning and repair, and tenants were required to temporarily relocate. CC 145 Main filed a claim with Union Mutual for water damage, which Union Mutual denied pursuant to a provision in the insurance policy excluding coverage for damage caused by “[w]ater that backs up or overflows or is otherwise discharged from a sewer, drain, sump, sump pump or related equipment.” CC 145 Main filed a complaint seeking a declaration that the water exclusion does not apply to its claim. Union Mutual filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that the damage at issue was caused by water that overflowed from “drains” within the meaning of the exclusion. The trial court concluded it was unclear whether the word “drain” in the water exclusion applied to shower and toilet drains and, therefore, the water exclusion was ambiguous and had to be construed in favor of CC 145 Main. Defendant challenged the trial court’s ruling that the policy’s water damage exclusion was ambiguous and its decision to construe the policy, therefore, in favor of CC 145 Main. But finding no reversible error, the New Hampshire Supreme Court affirmed the trial court. View "CC 145 Main, LLC v. Union Mutual Fire Insurance Company" on Justia Law
Farmers Insurance Exchange v. Minemyer
The Supreme Court affirmed the order of the district court granting a summary judgment motion filed by Petitioners and two insurers, Farmers Insurance Exchange and Truck Insurance Exchange (collectively, Insurers), and denying Respondent's cross-motion for summary judgment, holding that the district court did not err by finding that Insurers had no duty to defend Respondent under the terms of the relevant insurance policies.After a complaint in the underlying lawsuit alleging slander, malicious prosecution, and bodily injury was amended to add Respondent as a defendant Respondent tendered the complaint to Farmers seeking defense and indemnity under a series of homeowners insurance policies and commercial general liability policies. Later, the Insurers filed a declaratory judgment action seeking a judicial determination that they were not obligated to defend and indemnity Respondent. The district court found that Insurers had no duty to defend Respondent under any of the policies. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Respondent failed to meet his burden of demonstrating that the claims fell within the scope of coverage of any of the policies at issue. View "Farmers Insurance Exchange v. Minemyer" on Justia Law
5 Walworth, LLC v. Engerman Contracting, Inc.
The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals in this insurance dispute over damages allegedly caused by the poor construction of an in-ground pool, holding that this Court overrules the portions of Wisconsin Pharmacy Co. v. Nebraska Cultures of California, Inc., 876 N.W.2d 72 (Wis. 2016), stating that "property damages" must be to "other property" for purposes of determining an initial grant of coverage in a commercial general liability (CGL) policy.Due to the damages caused by the cracking of Homeowner's pool, Homeowner was forced to demolish the entire pool structure and construct a new one. Two insurers on appeal had issued CGL policies to the pool's general contractor, and a third insurer issued a CGL policy to the supplier of the pump mix used for the pool's construction. All three insurers sought a declaration that their policies did not provide coverage to Homeowner. The Supreme Court held, under the circumstances of this case, that none of the insurers were entitled to summary judgment and accordingly remanded the cause back to the circuit court for further proceedings. View "5 Walworth, LLC v. Engerman Contracting, Inc." on Justia Law
Callahan v. Brant
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the district court granting summary judgment in favor of Plaintiffs' insurer and its agent in this negligence action brought by Plaintiffs seeking to recover damages after their home was destroyed in a fire, holding that the district court did not err.Insureds purchased a homeowners insurance policy from Insurer through a licensed insurance producer (Agent). Insureds later filed a complaint alleging that Agent negligently advised them on the estimated replacement value of their home and negligently misrepresented the adequacy of their policy limits in the event of a total loss. Insureds also alleged that Insurer was liable under a theory of respondent superior. The district court granted summary judgment for Insurer and Agent. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Insureds' claims failed as a matter of law and that the district court did not err in granting summary judgment. View "Callahan v. Brant" on Justia Law
Apex Development Co., LLC v. State of R.I. Dep’t of Transportation
The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the superior court granting summary judgment and final judgment in favor of third-party defendants, Western Surety Company and the Insurance Company of the State of Pennsylvania (collectively, the Sureties) in this case concerning the scope of the sureties' liability under a performance and payment bond issued in conjunction with a public works project, holding that there was no error.The Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) was sued by Apex Development Company in this action alleging that RIDOT and its contractors trespassed and damaged Apex's private property. RIDOT filed a third-party complaint against the Sureties and others, seeking full indemnity and contribution. A hearing justice granted summary judgment for the Sureties, and a final judgment was entered. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that RIDOT was not entitled to relief on its allegations of error on appeal. View "Apex Development Co., LLC v. State of R.I. Dep't of Transportation" on Justia Law
Fidelity National Title Insurance Co. v. Osborn III Partners, LLC
In this case concerning the meaning and application of a standard title insurance policy exclusion (Exclusion 3(a)) designed to cover any defects, encumbrances, or adverse claims created or suffered by the insured in the context of construction lending, holding that this Court's opinion in First American Title Insurance Co. v. Action Acquisitions, LLC, 218 Ariz. 394 (2008), sets forth the proper interpretation and application Exclusion 3(a).In its underlying rulings, the trial court invoked Action Acquisitions to interpret Exclusion 3(a) in the construction lending context. The court of appeals reversed, instead applying the bright-line rule articulated in BB Syndication Services, Inc. v. First American Title Insurance Co., 780 F.3d 825 (7th Cir. 2015). The Supreme Court reversed in part and vacated the judgment in part, holding (1) this Court adopts Action Acquisitions' causation test for Exclusion 3(a)'s applicability; and (2) the court of appeals erred in applying the BB Syndication approach. View "Fidelity National Title Insurance Co. v. Osborn III Partners, LLC" on Justia Law
Parrish v. State Farm Fla. Insurance Co.
The Supreme Court approved the decision of the Second District Court of Appeal in the proceedings below, holding that an appraiser cannot be "disinterested" if he or she, or a firm in which he or she has an interest, is to be compensated for services as a public adjuster with a contingency fee.At issue was whether George Keys, the president of Keys Claims Consultants, Inc. (KCC), a homeowner's public adjusting firm, which was to be compensated on a contingency basis for its adjusting services, could subsequently serve as a "disinterested" appraiser for Jon Parrish under the language of the relevant insurance policy with State Farm. The trial court concluded that Keys could serve as Parrish's disinterested appraiser because the two had disclosed their arrangement to State Farm. The Second District reversed, concluding that Keys could not serve as Parrish's disinterested appraiser. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that because Keys’s company, KCC, was to be compensated via contingency fee, Keys had a pecuniary interest in the outcome of the claim and could not qualify as a “disinterested” appraiser. View "Parrish v. State Farm Fla. Insurance Co." on Justia Law