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High court denies rehearing

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A split Indiana Supreme Court has denied rehearing a case involving faulty workmanship being covered under a commercial general liability policy.

On Dec. 17, Justices Brent Dickson, Robert Rucker, and Steven David denied Continental Casualty Company’s petition for rehearing. In October, the justices were divided on whether an “occurrence” under a CGL covers an insured contract for faulty workmanship of its subcontractors. Justices Dickson, Rucker, and Theodore Boehm reversed the trial court ruling in favor of the insurers on grounds that there wasn’t property damage and thus there was no “occurrence” or “property damage.”

The majority aligned themselves with the jurisdictions that held improper or faulty workmanship does constitute an accident as long as the resulting damage is an event that occurs without expectation or foresight. They remanded for further proceedings because none of the parties’ Trial Rule 56 materials addressed the question of whether the faulty workmanship was the product of intentional or unintentional conduct, so the trial court reached no conclusion on that. If the subcontractor’s defective work was done intentionally instead of “without intention or design” then it is not an accident, the majority decided.

Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard and Justice Frank Sullivan dissented from the October ruling and also dissented from the denial to grant Continental’s petition for rehearing. In his three-page dissent, Justice Sullivan reiterated his belief that the damage isn’t covered under a CGL policy. He pointed to a 6th Circuit Court of Appeals case, Cincinnati Insurance Co. v. Beazer Homes Investments, LLC 594 F.3d 441 (6th Circ. 2010), in which that court addressed this exact issue of Indiana law. He believed the Circuit Court more accurately analyzed Indiana law on the subject than the Supreme Court’s opinion. The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals concluded that because it is neither “property damage” nor an “occurrence”, faulty workmanship causing damage to the insured property isn’t covered by CGL polices under Indiana law.

Justice Sullivan and Chief Justice Shepard, who joined him in the dissent, agreed with the alternatives available to provide appropriate recourse to general contractors who are faced with damage from faulty workmanship, including requiring performance bonds.

Also on Dec. 17, the justices issued an opinion on rehearing from Indiana Insurance in the same matter. They granted the rehearing to address the timeliness of Sheehan Construction Company’s notice to Indiana Insurance. Neither the Indiana Court of Appeals nor the Supreme Court addressed this issue on appeal. The justices unanimously affirmed summary judgment in favor of the insurer on this matter.

“In this case Sheehan conceded it did not give Indiana Insurance timely notice of Sheehan’s claims under the CGL policy. Because prejudice to the insurer was therefore presumed, Indiana Insurance carried its initial burden of demonstrating it had no liability to Sheehan under the policy of insurance. Sheehan has not directed this Court to any evidence it presented to the trial court rebutting the presumption of prejudice,” wrote Justice Rucker.

In all other respects, the original opinion was affirmed.

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  1. Indianapolis employers harassment among minorities AFRICAN Americans needs to be discussed the metro Indianapolis area is horrible when it comes to harassing African American employees especially in the local healthcare facilities. Racially profiling in the workplace is an major issue. Please make it better because I'm many civil rights leaders would come here and justify that Indiana is a state the WORKS only applies to Caucasian Americans especially in Hamilton county. Indiana targets African Americans in the workplace so when governor pence is trying to convince people to vote for him this would be awesome publicity for the Presidency Elections.

  2. Wishing Mary Willis only God's best, and superhuman strength, as she attempts to right a ship that too often strays far off course. May she never suffer this personal affect, as some do who attempt to change a broken system: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QojajMsd2nE

  3. Indiana's seatbelt law is not punishable as a crime. It is an infraction. Apparently some of our Circuit judges have deemed settled law inapplicable if it fails to fit their litmus test of political correctness. Extrapolating to redefine terms of behavior in a violation of immigration law to the entire body of criminal law leaves a smorgasbord of opportunity for judicial mischief.

  4. I wonder if $10 diversions for failure to wear seat belts are considered moral turpitude in federal immigration law like they are under Indiana law? Anyone know?

  5. What a fine article, thank you! I can testify firsthand and by detailed legal reports (at end of this note) as to the dire consequences of rejecting this truth from the fine article above: "The inclusion and expansion of this right [to jury] in Indiana’s Constitution is a clear reflection of our state’s intention to emphasize the importance of every Hoosier’s right to make their case in front of a jury of their peers." Over $20? Every Hoosier? Well then how about when your very vocation is on the line? How about instead of a jury of peers, one faces a bevy of political appointees, mini-czars, who care less about due process of the law than the real czars did? Instead of trial by jury, trial by ideological ordeal run by Orwellian agents? Well that is built into more than a few administrative law committees of the Ind S.Ct., and it is now being weaponized, as is revealed in articles posted at this ezine, to root out post moderns heresies like refusal to stand and pledge allegiance to all things politically correct. My career was burned at the stake for not so saluting, but I think I was just one of the early logs. Due, at least in part, to the removal of the jury from bar admission and bar discipline cases, many more fires will soon be lit. Perhaps one awaits you, dear heretic? Oh, at that Ind. article 12 plank about a remedy at law for every damage done ... ah, well, the founders evidently meant only for those damages done not by the government itself, rabid statists that they were. (Yes, that was sarcasm.) My written reports available here: Denied petition for cert (this time around): http://tinyurl.com/zdmawmw Denied petition for cert (from the 2009 denial and five year banishment): http://tinyurl.com/zcypybh Related, not written by me: Amicus brief: http://tinyurl.com/hvh7qgp

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