Insurer Must Defend General Contractor

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Under Massachusetts law, faulty workmanship was not an accidental occurrence, but coverage was possible when faulty workmanship caused an accident.

April 3, 2023
Tred R. Eyerly - Insurance Law Hawaii

Interpreting Massachusetts law, the federal district court determined consequential damage resulting from the insured's faulty work triggered a duty to defend. Capitol Spec. Ins. Corp. v. Dello Russo Enter. LLC, 2023 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 11627 (D. Mass. Jan. 24, 2023).

Peta-Gay and Michael Print sued the insured, Dello Russo, who they hired as the general contractor for extensive remodelling and renovation of their building. During the demolition work, certain structural load-bearing walls were removed, including a portion of an exterior bricked masonry wall. Shoring of other parts of the building was inadequate and removal of the masonry wall reduced the structural integrity of the building. Cracks began to appear in the remaining portion of the masonry wall and increased over the next few days. Soon thereafter, the City of Boston determined the building was dangerous and that salvage of the undamaged portions was not feasible. Therefore, the building was demolished.

Certain Underwriters at Lloyd's, London, filed suit against Dello Russo as subrogee of the Prinns. Dello Russo tendered the complaint to its insurer, Capitol Specialty Insurance Corporation, who defended under a reservation of rights,. Capitol then filed a suit seeking a declaratory judgment that it had no duty to defend or to indemnify. The parties cross-claimed for summary judgment.

Mr. Eyerly may be contacted at


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