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Court reverses ruling in Plymouth church insurer's suit against contractors

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The Indiana Court of Appeals reinstated an insurer’s case against contractors who built a Plymouth church gymnasium addition in 2008 in which the basketball court floor was ruined when a frozen sprinkler burst eight months later.

The court reversed and remanded a Marshall Circuit Court ruling of summary judgment for the defendants in Brotherhood Mutual Insurance Company as Subrogee of Plymouth Wesleyan Church v. Michiana Contracting, Inc., McGrath Refrigeration, Inc., John D. McGrath, Joseph A. Dzierla and Assoc., Inc., et al., 50A03-1111-CT-518.

Brotherhood Mutual Insurance paid a $37,355.80 claim to repair the floor and brought suit against the contractors. The trial court granted the defendants’ motion for summary judgment on the basis that a contract for the addition was subject to a waiver of subrogation.  

On appeal, Brotherhood argued the waiver didn’t apply because the church installed the wood floor on the basketball court. The trial court had determined that the installation of the court was within the scope of the work under the contract.

“Brotherhood asserts the wooden gym floor, which was the subject of the insurance claim, was not “Work” because, while Michiana poured and sealed the concrete for the gym floor, the Church installed the wood floor atop the concrete without assistance from Michiana,” Judge Melissa May wrote for the unanimous panel. “In addition, Brotherhood contends the contract does not contain exact specifications for the installation of the wooden gym floor; instead, the contract mentions the gym floor as a series of options.”

“The wooden gym floor therefore was not within the ‘Scope of Work’ for the project and therefore was not subject to the waiver of subrogation. Therefore, we reverse the summary judgment and remand for proceedings consistent with this opinion,” May wrote.

 

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