Westfield not obligated to defend Florida contractor

A federal appeals court Monday affirmed that Westfield Insurance Co. is not obligated to defend or insure a Florida contractor in connection with a sophisticated dispute with just one of its subcontractors.

The Diaz Fritz Group Inc., centered in Temple Terrace, Florida, employed Howard Baker Inc. in May 2009 as a subcontractor to complete foundation function at University Local community Healthcare facility Carrollwood in Tampa, according to the ruling by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta inThe Diaz Fritz Team Inc. d.b.a. Diaz Fritz Isabel vs. Westfield Insurance plan Co.

Diaz Fritz agreed to spend Tampa-based mostly HBI $290,000 to full the venture. But issues designed and, according to Diaz Fritz,  HBI negligently prompted some of the hospital’s other property to flood, incurring sizeable problems.

Just after the clinic demanded Diaz Fritz remediate the situation inside 3 times, the enterprise attained out to Westfield, but the insurer mentioned HBI was liable for the flooding. Westfield sent the claim to HBI’s insurance provider, Zurich American Insurance policy Co., but the insurers could not agree on irrespective of whether Zurich’s coverage demanded it to deliver protection to Diaz Fritz as an more insured.

Meanwhile, with no looking for Westfield’s approval, Diaz Fritz paid for the vital repairs — which totaled about $506,000 — devoid of admitting fault. It then made the decision to withhold the $290,000 it experienced agreed to shell out HBI for its do the job but however remained on the hook for more than $200,000 of the volume it experienced paid the clinic.

Following Westfield refused to protect it, Diaz Fritz submitted suit in opposition to HBI in condition court, where a jury found HBI partly dependable for $267,00 in damages. Offsetting the $290,000 Diaz Fritz experienced withheld, the jury awarded HBI $23,400 in damages.

Diaz Fritz submitted fit towards Westfield in U.S. District Court in Tampa, in search of a declaratory judgment the insurance company was obligated to defend and indemnify it.

The district court dominated in Westfield’s favor and was affirmed by a a few-choose appeals courtroom panel.

The district court docket dominated in Westfield’s favor “after concluding that the simple and unambiguous coverage language” covered “suits”’ for damages due to the fact of house destruction, the appeals court docket ruling reported.

“In distinction, it located that HBI’s affirmative defense only sought to offset the amount of damages Diaz Fritz claimed it was owed in a  contract motion. We agree, and uncover Diaz Fritz’s contrary argument unconvincing,” the panel stated, in keeping Westfield was not obligated to present both a defense or indemnification.

Westfield lawyer Aram P. Megerian, a spouse with Cole, Scott & Kissane P.A., in Tampa, mentioned in a assertion he considered the court achieved the suitable conclusion. Diaz Fritz lawyers did not reply to a request for remark.

 

 

 

Christopher Lewis

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