Insurer Granted Summary Judgment on Denial of Construction Defect Claim

Scales of justice

Tred R. Eyerly discusses Fontaine Bros. v. Acadia Ins. Co.

January 27, 2020
Tred R. Eyerly - Insurance Law Hawaii

The court granted the insurer's motion for summary judgment, confirming there was no duty to defend or indemnify a construction defect claim against the insured. Fontaine Bros. v. Acadia Ins. Co., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 148056 (D. Mass. Aug. 29, 2019).

The City of Worcester contracted with Fontaine Brothers, Inc. to install a new ice refrigeration system at the City's indoor ice rink. After construction, the condensers in two chiller units eroded and stopped operating.

The City sued Fontaine for the costs of leasing temporary chillers and installing new ones. The City alleged that Fontaine installed condensers with carbon steel tubes instead of contractually required stainless stell tubes.Further, Fontaine and its subcontractors did not adequately maintain the condensers, in breach of the contract.

Fontaine's insurer, Acadia Insurance Company, denied coverage. Fontaine sued Acadia. The court noted that the City's complaint plainly alleged faulty workmanship by Fontaine. However, the City's complaint did not allege that Fontaine intended the condensers to corrode and left open the possibility that Fontaine was unaware of any potential problem or did not foresee the corrosion likely to result from the use of carbon steel components or the maintenance work being done by its subcontractor. Therefore, the Cit's complaint did not foreclose the possibility that the corrosion resulting from Fontaine's alleged faulty workmanship and maintenance might be shown to be an unforeseen or unintended consequence of reckless or negligent conduct. Accordingly, it was possible that there was an occurrence under the policy language.

Mr. Eyerly may be contacted at te@hawaiilawyer.com



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