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Insurance dispute divides Court of Appeals

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A split Indiana Court of Appeals reversed a trial court’s finding that a landlord was not covered by the tenant’s insurance policy.

After pipes in a warehouse sprinkler system burst, the tenant’s insurance company, Erie Insurance Exchange filed a subrogation lawsuit against the building’s owner Rangeline LLC.

The trial court concluded Erie did not owe Rangeline a defense or indemnity in the underlying litigation.

On appeal, Rangeline argued that the additional insured endorsement in the policy provided coverage. Moreover, Rangeline asserted the A/I Endorsement language did not restrict coverage to only claims for which the landlord would have liability due to the actions of the tenant but instead extended a broader grant of coverage for any liability arising out of the leased premises.

Erie countered no coverage existed under the A/I Endorsement because the sprinkler system was not part of the premises leased to the tenant. Erie cited the Indiana Administrative Code in claiming that Rangeline retained control of the sprinkler system.

Pointing to its decision in Liberty Mut. Ins. Co. v. Mich. Mut. Ins. Co., 891 N.E.2d 99 (Ind. Ct. App. 2008), the Court of Appeals found a significant connection between the accident and the leased premises.

The Court of Appeals reversed and remanded in Selective Insurance Company of South Carolina and 500 Rangeline Road, LLC v. Erie Insurace Exchange, Welch & Wilson Properties, LLC d/b/a Hammons Storage, Allianz Global Risks U.S. Insurance Company, 73A01-1307-PL-311.

Judge Margret Robb dissented, agreeing with the trial court that the A/I Endorsement of the policy does not provide coverage for Rangeline in the underlying litigation.

 

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