Care, Custody or Control Exclusion Requires Complete and Exclusive Control by Insured Claiming Coverage

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Attorneys Christopher Kendrick and Valerie A. Moore discuss the case McMillin Homes Construction v. Natl. Fire & Marine Ins. Co.

July 30, 2019
Christopher Kendrick & Valerie A. Moore – Haight Brown & Bonesteel LLP

In McMillin Homes Construction v. Natl. Fire & Marine Ins. Co. (No. D074219, filed 6/5/19) a California appeals court held that a “care, custody or control” exclusion did not bar coverage for defense of a general contractor as an additional insured under a subcontractor’s policy, because the exclusion requires exclusive control, but the facts and allegations posed a possibility of shared control with the subcontractor.

McMillin was the general contractor on a housing project and was added as an additional insured to the roofing subcontractor’s policy pursuant to the construction subcontract. The homeowners sued, including allegations of water intrusion from roof defects. McMillin tendered to the roofing subcontractor’s insurer, which denied a defense based on the CGL exclusion for damage to property within McMillin’s care, custody or control.

In the ensuing bad faith lawsuit, McMillin argued that the exclusion required complete or exclusive care, custody or control by the insured claiming coverage, which was not the case for McMillin. The insurer argued that the exclusion said nothing about complete or exclusive care, custody or control. Further, the intent to exclude coverage for damage to any and all property in McMillin’s care, custody or control, to whatever degree, was demonstrated by the fact that the additional insured endorsement in question was not an ISO CG2010 form, but a CG2009 form, which expressly adds a care, custody or control exclusion to the additional insured coverage not found in the CG2010 form. The argument was that the CG2009 form evidences an intent to conclusively eliminate coverage for property in the additional insured’s care, custody or control. In addition, the insurer argued that this result was also reinforced by its inclusion of an ISO CG2139 endorsement in the roofer’s policy, which eliminated that part of the “insured contract” language of the CGL form, defining an “insured contract” as “[t]hat part of any other contract or agreement pertaining to your business . . . under which you assume the tort liability of another party to pay for ‘bodily injury’ or ‘property damage’ to a third person or organization.” The insurer’s argument was that by having eliminated coverage for contractual indemnity or hold harmless agreements, it had “closed the loop” of eliminating additional insured coverage for construction defect claims.

Reprinted courtesy of Christopher Kendrick, Haight Brown & Bonesteel LLP and Valerie A. Moore, Haight Brown & Bonesteel LLP
Mr. Kendrick may be contacted at ckendrick@hbblaw.com
Ms. Moore may be contacted at vmoore@hbblaw.com



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