Product Defect Allegations Trigger Duty To Defend in Pennsylvania

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While this decision is not precedential, it is instructive to insureds seeking defense in construction defect matters.

August 31, 2020
Stacy M. Manobianca - Saxe Doernberger & Vita

The Third Circuit Court of Appeals recently concluded, in Nautilus Insurance Co. v. 200 Christian Street Partners, LLC., that a duty to defend is triggered when product-related allegations are pled in connection with a claim for defective construction.

In Nautilus, the coverage dispute arose out of two independent underlying lawsuits in which homeowners alleged that the homes built by 200 Christian Street Partners (“Christian Street”) were defectively constructed. Christian Street tendered the claim to its insurer, Nautilus Insurance Co. (“Nautilus”), for defense and indemnity.1

Nautilus filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, seeking a declaration that it was not obligated to defend Christian Street in the underlying actions.2 Specifically, Nautilus asserted that it was not required to provide a defense in the underlying actions because Pennsylvania law does not consider faulty workmanship to constitute an “occurrence” and, therefore, to trigger the policy’s insuring agreement and the insurer’s duty to defend.3

Ms. Manobianca may be contacted at smm@sdvlaw.com



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