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Hartford must defend masonry



A Hartford Financial Services Group Inc. unit must defend a masonry company in construction defect disputes, says a federal district court when it granted the company partial summary judgments in the case.

San Jose-based Pacific Bay Masonry Inc., a masonry construction company, entered into a subcontracting agreement with main contractor Deacon Corp., based in Portland, Oregon, in 2014 to build masonry for a new retail store in Oakland, California, according to Thursday judgment of the U.S. District Court of San Francisco Pacific Bay Masonry Inc. v. Navigators Specialty Insurance Co.

In 2017, a successor to the mall's owner sued Deacon and others in a state court alleging a variety of construction defects, the ruling said. Deacon then filed a cross-complaint against the property developer and others including PBM, the ruling said.

PBM brought an action against its insurer, the Hartford unit Navigators, after refusing to defend or indemnify it in the case. PBM brought an action against the insurer and requested a partial summary judgment stating that the insurer was obliged to defend it.

The court ruled in favor of PBM. The complaint against PBM claimed that its work "resulted in damage to property other than its own", which is covered by its policy, the ruling said.

Conflicting statements in the owner's complaint and a conversation with its lawyer "may show a dispute existed as to whether third party property damage arose from PBM's work. "This does not preclude the obligation to defend because disputed factors are taken into account in an obligation to defend an analysis," the judgment said.

Attorney Brian D. Cronin, associate with Prenovost, Normandin, Dawe & Rocha APC in Santa Ana, California, said in a statement: "The court's decision is an important affirmation of the rights of companies insured throughout the state. in California.

"The judgment sets out a reasonable and uncomplicated interpretation of the standard CGL insurance policy, the provisions of which have provided representatives for their insurances for too long."

Navigator's lawyers did not respond. to a request for comment.

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