As is often the case in construction defect and other insurance defense litigation, a plaintiff’s claims for relief typically encompass both covered and uncovered damages. Obviously, it is in the insured’s best interests to have as many damages covered by insurance as possible. From the insurer’s perspective and against the backdrop of owing duty of good faith and fair dealing to its insureds, however, it is generally better to have an allocation of covered vs. non-covered damages. This places the insurer, insured, and insurance retained defense counsel in a difficult position.
A recent opinion from U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado, Rockhill Ins. Co. v. CFI-Global Fisheries Mgmt, Civil Action No. 1:16-CV-02760-RM-MJW, 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 35209 (D. Colo. Mar. 2, 2020), sheds light on the issue, even though some may feel it only further muddies already murky waters.
Rockhill involved review of an arbitration proceeding that property-owner, Heirloom I, LLC (“Heirloom”) filed against CFI-Global Fisheries Management (“CFI”). Rockhill Insurance Company (“Rockhill Insurance”) was asked to defend the arbitration as CFI’s professional and general liability insurer. At issue in the arbitration was Heirloom’s claim that CFI defectively designed and constructed a fisheries enhancement that was destroyed by natural processes four times in three years.