The Third Circuit ruled on Friday that differing “occurrence” definitions can have materially different meanings in the context of whether product defect claims constitute an “occurrence” triggering coverage under general liability insurance policies. The Court held in Sapa Extrusions, Inc. v. Liberty Mutual Insurance Company, that product claims against Sapa may be covered under policies that define an “occurrence” as an accident resulting in bodily injury or property damage “neither expected nor intended from the standpoint of the insured.” However, the Court affirmed that coverage was not triggered under policies lacking the “expected” or “intended” limitation, reasoning that, under those policies, there was no question that the intentional manufacturing of Sapa’s product was too foreseeable to amount to an “accident.”
The coverage dispute arose from an underlying action in which Marvin, a window manufacturer, alleged that, between 2000 and 2010, Sapa sold it roughly 28 million defective aluminum window extrusions. Marvin alleged that the extrusions, which are metal frames that hold glass window panes in place, began to oxidize and break down shortly after they were installed, causing Marvin to incur substantial costs to fix and replace them.
Marvin sued Sapa in 2010 in Minnesota federal court, and the parties settled in 2013. Sapa sought coverage for the settlement from its eight general liability insurers for the period implicated by Marvin’s allegations. The insurers denied coverage and Sapa brought suit in the Middle District of Pennsylvania.
Reprinted courtesy of Michael S. Levine, Hunton Andrews Kurth and Michelle M. Spatz, Hunton Andrews Kurth
Mr. Levine may be contacted at mlevine@HuntonAK.com
Ms. Spatz may be contacted at mspatz@HuntonAK.com