California Court Broadly Interprets Insurance Policy’s “Liability Arising Out of” Language

December 20, 2017
Garret Murai - California Construction Law Blog

In McMillin Mgmt. Servs. v. Financial Pacific Ins. Co., Cal.Ct.App. (4th Dist.), Docket No. D069814 (filed 11/14/17), the California Court of Appeal held that the term “liability arising out of,” as used in an ongoing operations endorsement, does not require that the named insured’s liability arise while it is performing work on a construction project.

In the McMillin case, the general contractor and developer (McMillin) contracted with various subcontractors, including a concrete subcontractor and stucco subcontractor insured by Lexington Insurance Company. Both subcontractors performed their work at the project prior to the sale of the units.

The Lexington policies contained substantively identical additional insured endorsements that provided coverage to McMillin “for liability arising out of your [the named insured subcontractor’s] ongoing operations performed for [McMillin].” Several homeowners filed suit against McMillin, alleging that they had discovered various defective conditions arising out of the construction of their homes, including defects arising out of the work performed by Lexington’s insureds. Lexington argued that there was no potential for coverage in McMillin’s favor under the endorsements because there were no homeowners during the time that the subcontractors’ operations were performing work at the project (the homes closed escrow after the subcontractors had completed their work); thus, McMillin did not have any liability for property damage that took place while the subcontractors’ operations were ongoing.

Mr. Murai may be contacted at gmurai@wendel.com



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