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Jeffrey Crowe is a partner in the Business Trial Practice Group in the firm's Orange County office.

The concept of fortuity is fundamental to insurance law. That is because insurance protects against the risk of contingent or unknown events or losses – not certainties of loss. Cal. Ins. Code § 22. Thus, in the context of third-party liability insurance, most policies condition coverage on an “occurrence,” meaning an “accident,” that causes bodily injury, property damage or personal injury.[1]Continue Reading Can an Insured’s Mental Incapacity or Insanity Convert Non-Accidental Conduct into an Accident?

Voyager Indemnity Insurance Company (“Voyager) issued a commercial liability insurance policy to MRB Construction, Inc. (“MRB Construction”), a framing subcontractor. As is common with such policies, MRB Construction’s policy contained a “blanket” additional insured endorsement for its ongoing operations. Specifically, the policy not only covered MRB Construction as the named insured, but extended “additional insured” status to those persons or organizations “for whom you are performing operations.” Continue Reading Failure to Timely Produce in Discovery Underlying Written Contract with Insured Prevented General Contractor from Establishing Status as an Additional Insured

Thomas Guastello v. AIG Specialty Insurance Company, — Cal.Rptr.3d –, 2021 WL 650878 (Cal. Ct. App., Feb. 19, 2021), Fourth Appellate District Court of Appeal, Case No. G057714.

Various stakeholders in the Pointe Monarch housing development in Dana Point, California, accused subcontractor C.W. Poss Inc. (“Poss”) of negligently designing and constructing retaining walls.  One such party, Thomas Guastello, sued Poss for damage to a perimeter wall in the backyard of Guastello’s property.  According to Guastello, in January 2010, a retaining wall close to his property designed and constructed by Poss failed and caused soil to collapse and damage a perimeter wall on Guastello’s property.
Continue Reading Continuous and Progressive Damage Raised Factual Question as to the Timing of “Occurrence”

Pitzer College v. Indian Harbor Insurance Company, — P.3d –, 2019 WL 4065521 (2019); California Supreme Court, Case No. S239510 (Aug. 29, 2019).

On certified questions by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the California Supreme Court in Pitzer College v. Indian Harbor Insurance Company examined notice and consent provisions under both first-party and third-party coverage – despite the parties’ dispute as to the type of policy coverage at issue.
Continue Reading California Supreme Court Applies Notice-Prejudice Rule to Violation of First-Party Consent Provision as a Predicate to Policy Forfeiture, but Confirms that No Prejudice is Required to Enforce a Third-Party “No Voluntary Payments” Provision

Melissa Komorsky v. Farmers Insurance Exchange, et al. — Cal.Rptr.3d –, 2019 WL 1451275 (Cal. Ct. App., March 1, 2019), Second Appellate District Court of Appeal, Case No. B286443.

An uninsured motorist struck and killed Linda Liker, which led to competing claims for uninsured motorist (“UM”) benefits between Ms. Liker’s surviving husband, Alan, and her daughter from a prior marriage, Melissa Komorsky. Melissa did not reside in the Likers’ home.
Continue Reading Insurer’s Mistake in Treating Non-Resident Relative as an Insured Under UM Coverage Of Umbrella Policy Did Not Create Coverage by Estoppel

Centex Homes, et al. v. St. Paul Fire and Marine Insurance Company, — Cal.Rptr.3d –, 2018 WL 494749 (Jan. 22, 2018), Third Appellate District Court of Appeal, Case No. C081266.

Homeowners from two residential developments sued Centex for alleged construction defects. As an additional insured under policies issued to subcontractor Ad Land Venture, Centex tendered the underlying construction defect lawsuit to St. Paul Fire and Marine Insurance Company.

St. Paul appointed a lawyer to defend Centex, but subject to a reservation of rights that its general liability policies issued to Ad Land did not cover damage to Ad Land’s work or damage caused by the work of other subcontractors that it did not insure. St. Paul also reserved its right to seek reimbursement of costs incurred in defending uncovered claims.
Continue Reading Developer Had No Right to Independent Counsel Based on a Possible Conflict of Interest for Carrier-Appointed Counsel

Pulte Home Corporation v. American Safety Indemnity Company, — Cal.Rptr.3d — , 2017 WL 3725045 (Aug. 30, 2017); California Court of Appeal, Fourth District, Division 1, Case No. D070478.

In two construction defect lawsuits, homeowners sued the general contractor and developer, Pulte Home Corporation, for alleged foundation, electrical and waterproofing defects.

Pulte required that its subcontractors purchase general liability insurance with completed operations coverage naming Pulte as an additional insured. American Safety Indemnity Company had issued such liability insurance policies to several subcontractors implicated in the defect claims. Those policies included “products – completed operations” coverage for property damage occurring away from the named insured’s premises, “arising out of ‘your work.’” “Your work” included “work or operations performed by you or on your behalf” and warranties as to fitness and quality.
Continue Reading Court Finds Ambiguity in Additional Insured Endorsement to Trigger Defense Duty Under Completed Operations Coverage

Energy Insurance Mutual Limited v. Ace American Insurance Company, 14 Cal.App.5th 281 (2017); First Appellate District Court of Appeal, Division Four, Case No. A140656 (July 11, 2017). In Energy Insurance Mutual Limited v. Ace American Insurance Company, the California Court of Appeal held that a “professional services” exclusion applied to bar coverage for claims made against an oil pipeline owner, Kinder Morgan, and its temporary staffing agency, Comforce, following an explosion at a construction site. Kinder Morgan had hired two temporary employees from Comforce to work as construction inspectors on a water supply line project. As a result of Kinder Morgan’s alleged failure to properly mark the oil pipeline, an excavator punctured a high-pressured petroleum line and caused the explosion.Continue Reading Professional Services Exclusion Negates Coverage for Liability Arising Out of Insured’s Failure to Mark Oil Pipeline