In a victory for policyholders, a recent decision from the Western District of Texas narrowly construed a common breach-of-contract exclusion and held that the insurer had a duty to defend its insured against an underlying lawsuit over construction defects. The allegations potentially supported a covered claim, as the conduct of the insured’s subcontractor could have been an independent, “but for” cause of the property damage at issue, thereby triggering the insurer’s duty to defend.
In Slay, the insured – a construction company – was hired by a city to design and construct a municipal sports complex, including Little League baseball fields, a softball field, parking lots, and a swimming pool. The construction company hired a subcontractor to perform various services on the project, including paving parking lots and laying the cement for the pool. After completing the project, one of the construction company’s employees noticed cracking in the parking lot and the pool. The construction company notified the city and tried to work out a repair plan, but the city refused and eventually sued, alleging construction defects and asserting claims for breach of contract and negligence.
Reprinted courtesy of Lorelie S. Masters, Hunton Andrews Kurth and Tae Andrews, Hunton Andrews Kurth
Ms. Masters may be contacted at lmasters@HuntonAK.com
Mr. Andrews may be contacted at tandrews@HuntonAK.com