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11th Circuit Affirms Summary Judgment in Construction Defect Coverage Case

Caryn L. Bellus and Benjamin B. Carter | October 19, 2022

Congratulations to Caryn Bellus and Ben Carter, of our Miami office, who prevailed in a federal court appeal arising out of the defective construction of a casino in Maryland.

Caryn and Ben represented Cincinnati Specialty Underwriters Insurance Company, which issued a CGL policy to window contractor KNS Group, LLC. The subcontractor who hired KNS, GM&P Consulting and Glazing Contractors, Inc., was eventually sued by the casino’s owner for faulty workmanship, and GM&P sought a defense and indemnity as an additional insured on KNS’s policy, which Cincinnati denied. In the subsequent coverage action, the district entered summary judgment for Cincinnati, finding that it had no duty to defend or indemnify GM&P because the policy’s additional insured coverage only extended to claims of vicarious liability for KNS’s negligence, which the underlying complaint did not allege.

On appeal, GM&P argued that the policy, which covered GM&P for property damage caused “in whole or in part” by KNS, included the casino owner’s claims because the underlying complaint alleged improper installation of the casino’s “glass façade,” which GM&P had subcontracted to KNS. In response, Cincinnati argued that the underlying complaint said nothing about KNS, and thus GM&P was being sued only for its own negligence, which the plain language of the policy did not cover. The Eleventh Circuit agreed, holding that the policy only covered GM&P for liability that “is caused by or occurs by reason of acts or omissions of the named insured.” Because there were no such allegations in the underlying complaint, the court affirmed summary judgment for Cincinnati.

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