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The Buckeye State Bucks Recent Trend: Ohio Supreme Court Holds That Property Damage Caused by a Subcontractor's Faulty Work Does Not Constitute an 'Occurrence' Covered Under CGL Policies

Ohio N. Univ. v. Charles Constr. Servs., 2018 Ohio LEXIS 2375 (Oct. 9, 2018)

Author: John J. Gazzola

12/06/2018

Read the full post at Constructlaw

The Buckeye State Bucks Recent Trend: Ohio Supreme Court Holds That Property Damage Caused by a Subcontractor's Faulty Work Does Not Constitute an 'Occurrence' Covered Under CGL Policies

This case arose out of the construction of an inn and conference center at Ohio Northern University (ONU). After completion of the project, ONU discovered water damage and structural defects in the work and filed suit for breach of contract against its general contractor, Charles Construction Services, Inc. (Charles). Charles, in turn, sought defense and indemnity from its commercial general liability insurer, Cincinnati Insurance Company (CIC). As required by ONU, Charles’s policy contained a “products-completed operations-hazard” (PCOH) clause and terms specifically related to work performed by subcontractors. Under Charles’ policy, the insurance covered “property damage” only if it was caused by an “occurrence,” defined as “[a]n accident, including continuous or repeated exposure to substantially the same general harmful conditions.” “Accident,” however, was not defined. CIC intervened in ONU’s suit, seeking a declaratory judgment that it was not required to defend or indemnify Charles.

The trial court granted CIC summary judgment, holding that CIC had no duty to indemnify or defend Charles. The trial court based its holding on Westfield Inc. Co. v. Custom Agri Sys., Inc., 979 N.E.2d 269, a 2012 decision in which the Ohio Supreme Court concluded that claims for faulty workmanship are not fortuitous, and therefore, not claims for “property damage” caused by an “occurrence” covered by a CGL policy.

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