The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its decision in TCD, Inc. v. American Family Mutual Insurance Co. on April 12, 2012.
Summary Judgment—Duty to Defend.
Plaintiff TCD, Inc. appealed the district court’s summary judgment in favor of defendant American Family Mutual Insurance Company (American Family), on the ground that the insurance company had no duty to defend TCD under a commercial general liability (CGL) insurance policy. The judgment was affirmed.
The developer, Frisco Gateway Center, LLC (Gateway), entered into a contract with TCD, the general contractor, to construct a building. TCD subcontracted with Petra Roofing and Remodeling Company (Petra) to install the roof. The subcontract required Petra to “indemnify, hold harmless, and defend” TCD against claims arising out of or resulting from the performance of Petra’s work on the project. Petra also was to name TCD as an additional insured on its CGL policy. American Family issued a CGL policy to Petra, with TCD as an additional insured. The policy was cancelled on June 10, 2007 for nonpayment of the premium.
TCD sued Gateway, seeking payment on the project. Gateway counterclaimed for breach of contract, negligence, and violation of the Consumer Protection Act. This action proceeded to arbitration and resulted in a binding award. As an additional insured under the CGL policy, TCD demanded that American Family defend and indemnify it in the underlying action, but American Family denied coverage.
TCD sued Petra and American Family, asserting claims for declaratory judgment, breach of insurance contract, breach of contract, and negligence. The district court entered a default judgment against Petra and granted summary judgment in favor of American Family.
On appeal, TCD argued that Gateway’s counterclaims were sufficient to raise a genuine issue as to whether American Family had a duty to defend it against those counterclaims. Alternatively, TCD argued it was entitled to have the Court of Appeals consider evidence not contained in the counterclaims that purportedly shows the insurance company had a duty to defend. Finally, TCD argued that CRS § 13-20-808, enacted three years after the CGL policy was cancelled, requires reversal. The Court rejected all three arguments.
TCD argued that Gateway’s claims constituted “property damage” covered by the CGL policy. The Court stated that defense and liability coverage in CGL policies issued to subcontractors generally is limited to property damage caused by an “occurrence.” In this policy, an “occurrence” is “an accident, including continuous or repeated exposure to substantially the same general harmful conditions.” In analyzing the counterclaims made by Gateway, the Court found no alleged “accident,” but found that Petra improperly installed the roof, resulting in defects that caused TCD to breach its contract with Gateway.
TCD argued that it should be allowed to go outside the “four corners” of the counterclaims and offer other evidence. The Court found the argument unpersuasive.
In May 2010, the legislature enacted HB 10-1394, codified as CRS § 13-20-808. The Court held that the statute was not retroactive, and therefore was inapplicable. The judgment was affirmed.
Summary and full case available here.