Amerisure Mutual Ins. Co. v. Arch Specialty Ins. Co., No. 14-20239 (5th Cir. 2015)Annotate this Case
Arch Specialty Insurance Company appealed the grant of summary judgment in favor of Amerisure Mutual Insurance Company. In 2006, Amerisure issued a Texas Commercial Package Policy to Admiral Glass & Mirror Co. The policy afforded coverage in excess of any coverage afforded by a controlled insurance program policy. Arch issued an Owner Controlled Insurance Program (“OCIP”) policy to Endeavor Highrise, LP and its contractors and subcontractors for bodily injury and property damage arising out of construction of the Endeavor Highrise. Admiral was a subcontractor insured under the OCIP policy. Endeavor sued Admiral and others for faulty work. Amerisure tendered the lawsuit to Arch as the primary insurer. Prior to Arch accepting the defense, Amerisure incurred $23,879.27 in defense fees. In April 2012, Arch withdrew from defense of the Endeavor lawsuit asserting that attorneys’ fees, defense costs, and settlements of $2,000,000.00 from defending Admiral and other subcontractor defendants exhausted policy limits. Amerisure took over the defense and incurred additional fees and costs of $114,957.14 before settling the claims against Admiral. In total, Arch paid a settlement of $1,555,000.00 and defense costs of $159,543.15 under the general coverage limit of the OCIP, and paid settlements totaling $1,472,032.61 and defense costs of $527,967.36 under the products-completed operations coverage of the OCIP policy. Amerisure sued Arch in Texas state court for breach of contract, contending that Arch wrongfully refused to defend and indemnify Admiral. Amerisure argued on appeal that the term “expenses” in the Supplementary Payments provision did not include attorneys’ fees and other costs of defense. It also argued that, even if “expenses” includes defense costs, the effect of the statement “All other terms and conditions of this Policy remain unchanged” read together with the language that the duty to defend expires when “we have used up the [policy limits] in the payment of judgments or settlements” means that the policy limits are eroded only by payment of “judgments or settlements,” not defense costs. For its part, Arch argued that “expenses” included defense costs and that the endorsement controlled over any contrary language such that it converts this policy into an eroding policy. The Fifth Circuit agreed with Arch, concluding that the endorsement transformed the policy into an “eroding limits” policy. The Court affirmed the district court’s judgment regarding the duty to indemnify, reversed the district court’s judgment regarding the duty to defend, and rendered judgment for Arch.