General Contractors

April 2, 2019

Completion of high school project delayed another year

Source: AXA XL Environmental

To achieve the completion date on a school project, the GC accelerated its schedule, allowing the drywall contractor to start before the building envelope was completed. Rain damaged a majority of the installed drywall as well as the materials stored on site. This resulted in $2 million in repair costs and associated delay costs, borne by the GC.…

April 2, 2019

Local bank faces both asbestos and mold cleanup

Source: AXA XL Environmental

A GC renovating a bank hired an asbestos abatement contractor. As part of their final cleanup process on a Friday, the abatement contractor utilized a high-pressure wash, resulting in saturated carpets, ceilings and walls. Materials remained saturated over the weekend while the HVAC system remained turned off. The GC was greeted with extensive mold growth throughout the building on Monday morning, and ultimately a $600,000 bill to correct the damage. Although the GC ensured that the subcontractor retained pollution insurance, the subcontractor had a mold exclusion on their policy, leaving the entire cost on the shoulders of the GC.…

April 2, 2019

Renovations at school result in bodily injury claims

Source: AXA XL Environmental

A GC was renovating an elementary school. During the course of work, dust from concrete cutting set off the fire alarms. Parents of students filed a claim against the general contractor for bodily injury due to fear of contracting silicosis. Although the GC was not held liable for causing a pollution incident, defense costs exceeded $50,000.…

April 2, 2019

Contractor causes property damage to building

Source: AXA XL Environmental

A GC used muriatic acid while performing concrete etching in a commercial building. The highly corrosive fumes from the acid were not properly contained and were released into the building damaging the newly installed chrome fixtures. As a result, the GC was responsible for $75,000 in property damages.…

April 2, 2019

Contractor destroys company’s heating/air conditioning system

Source: AXA XL Environmental

A GC removed lead-based paint from a commercial building. The contractor isolated the work areas with containment; however, the HVAC system was not disconnected. The dust generated from the lead removal operations clogged the heating coils of the HVAC system in the building. The contractor was liable for replacing the HVAC system and the associated disruption of business in the building.…

April 2, 2019

City workers sickened

Source: AXA XL Environmental

A GC was renovating a municipal government building and did not properly contain the area to minimize seepage of fumes from materials utilized and emissions from gas-powered generators and equipment. Ten separate bodily injury claims were filed when employees complained of headaches, nausea and respiratory  problems due to unsafe air quality conditions from exposure to toxic fumes and airborne contaminants. An air quality study was conducted and the contractor was held responsible for causing the building-related illnesses.…

April 2, 2019

Homeowner finds sewage in drinking water

Source: AXA XL Environmental

A subcontractor improperly tied-in sewage piping during installation causing raw sewage to migrate into the underlying ground, contaminating a nearby water well. The general contractor was subject to defense costs exceeding $25,000 as well as property damage and bodily injury claims.…

April 2, 2019

Employees are hospitalized after installation of new carpets

Source: AXA XL Environmental

A GC installed new carpeting in an office building. One week after installation, the building owner informed the contractor that employees were complaining of headaches and dizziness. This was attributed to the odors from the new carpets. The general contractor could not prove that the manufacturer of the carpet
or the carpet adhesive was responsible; thus, the contractor was left with the claim. The GC filed a claim with their general liability carrier. The claim was denied due to the fact that “hazardous materials” such as formaldehyde and volatile organic compounds associated with the carpeting and adhesives are pollutants.…

April 2, 2019

Employee injured during building renovations

Source: AXA XL Environmental

A GC added a curing agent to a concrete utility trench it had poured. The curing agent emitted vapors containing xylene. When an employee at the facility entered the enclosure, he was overcome by the vapors, became dizzy, and fell into the trench, sustaining various injuries. The employee filed suit against the contractor and subsequently the contractor filed a claim with its general liability insurance carrier. The carrier denied coverage under the pollution exclusion which a court upheld stating that an “absolute“ pollution exclusion in the policy barred coverage.…

February 19, 2019

Damages from Natural Gas Pipe Explosion Covered

Source: https://www.irmi.com, September 2015
By: Kent Holland

Where a natural gas pipe exploded due to construction workers disturbing it while working on an excavation project, the Wisconsin Supreme Court held that the resulting bodily injury and property damage was caused by a “pollution condition,” i.e., the escape of the natural gas, and that the contractor’s pollution liability (CPL) policy was required to pay defense and indemnity costs.

In Acuity v. Chartis Specialty Ins. Co., 861 N.W.2d 533 (Wis. 2015), Acuity Insurance was the commercial general liability (CGL) insurer for the contractor, and Chartis was the CPL insurer. Acuity defended and indemnified the contractor in four lawsuits seeking recovery for bodily injury and property damage caused by the natural gas-fueled explosion and fire. Acuity then sought recovery from Chartis, asserting that the CPL policy provided coverage for the damages because it was caused by a pollution condition.

The trial court found in favor of Acuity against Chartis—concluding that Chartis breached its duties of defense and indemnification. That decision was reversed by an intermediate state court of appeals, holding that the bodily injury (BI) and property damage (PD) were “due only to the explosion and fire, not to contacts with the escaped natural gas itself because the gas intrinsically is an ‘irritant’ or ‘contaminant’….” That decision in turn was reversed by the Wisconsin Supreme Court in the decision that is reported in this article.…