In 501 East 51st Street etc. v. Kookmin Best Ins. Co., Ltd. (No. B293605, filed 4/2/20, ordered pub. 4/16/20), a California appeals court affirmed summary adjudication and dismissal of a bad faith claim based on the genuine dispute doctrine.
501 East 51st Street Long-Beach-10, LLC (501) was the owner of a 10-unit apartment complex, insured by Kookmin Best. In 2017, an underground water main alongside the building burst which, according to 501, caused the building to move and crack. 501 made a claim and supplied a geotechnical report finding cracks in the foundation walls, cracks in the stucco and significant floor deformation and tilting near the water leak. The engineer’s opinion concluded that that “existing building distress was substantially contributed to by the water main break. The water introduced to the soil medium appears to have triggered differential foundation movement causing the stress features to develop.”
Kookmin retained its own engineers to investigate, who returned an opinion that the leak had exacerbated long-term pre-existing settlement which would continue. Under the policy, damage to the building caused by earth movement and settlement were excluded, but water damage resulting from an “accidental discharge” of water was covered. Kookmin then obtained an opinion from coverage counsel, who opined that only damage allocable to the water leak would be covered.
Reprinted courtesy of Christopher Kendrick, Haight Brown & Bonesteel LLP and Valerie A. Moore, Haight Brown & Bonesteel LLP
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