Greystone Construction v. National Fire & Marine, No. 09-1412 (10th Cir. 2011)Annotate this Case
The issue before the Tenth Circuit in this case centered on whether property damage caused by a subcontractor's faulty workmanship is an "ocurrence" for purposes of a commercial general liability (CGL) insurance policy. The issue arose from the appeals of Plaintiffs-Appellants Greystone Construction, Inc., The Branan Company, and American Family Mutual Insurance Company (American) who all appealed the district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of Defendant National Fire & Marine Insurance Company (National). Greystone was the general contractor that employed multiple subcontractors to build a house in Colorado. As is common along Colorado’s front range, the house was built on soils containing expansive clays. Over time, soil expansion caused the foundation to shift, resulting in extensive damage to the home’s living areas. The homeowners sued Greystone for damages, alleging defective construction by the subcontractors who installed the foundation. Greystone was insured under CGL policies provided by two insurers. American provided policies for 2001 to 2003, and National provided policies for 2003 to 2006. The American and National policy periods did not overlap. Greystone tendered a claim to American and then National. National denied it owed Greystone any defense. In district court, the builders and American sought to recover a portion of their defense costs from National. Upon review, the Tenth Circuit concluded that damage arising from a poor workmanship may fall under a CGL policy’s initial grant of coverage, even though recovery may still be precluded by a business-risk exclusion or another provision of the policy. The case was remanded to the district court for further proceedings.