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Granite State Insurance Company, and New Hampshire Insurance Company v. American Building Materials

December 5, 2011

GRANITE STATE INSURANCE COMPANY, AND NEW HAMPSHIRE INSURANCE COMPANY, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
AMERICAN BUILDING MATERIALS, INC., KB HOME TAMPA, LLC, AND KB HOME, INC., DEFENDANTS.



ORDER

This cause comes before the Court on the parties' cross motions for summary judgment. (Dkts. 57, 59, 60, 61, 66, 68, 69, 70, 72, 79.) This is an action to determine whether Plaintiffs Granite State Insurance Company ("Granite State") and New Hampshire Insurance Company ("NHIC") (collectively, "the Insurer") have a duty to defend or indemnify its named insured, Defendant American Building Materials, Inc. ("ABM"), in lawsuits and pre-suit claims in which it is alleged that ABM supplied defective drywall imported from China to Defendant KB Home, Tampa, LLC, and KB Home, Inc., (collectively, "KB Home"), and that KB Home constructed homes using this drywall. The Chinese drywall is alleged to have caused damage to real and personal property and, in some cases, caused physical injuries to persons.

The Insurer moves for entry of a declaratory judgment that it does not owe a duty to defend or indemnify ABM, or KB Home, as an additional insured, under the applicable policies with respect to any Chinese drywall claim.*fn1 Conversely, KB Home moves for entry of a declaratory judgment on its counterclaims that the Insurer has a duty to defend ABM in an underlying state court action brought by KB Home against ABM.*fn2

I. Background and Facts

The following facts are undisputed:

A. The Policies

Granite State issued three Commercial General Liability Policies to ABM, copies of which are attached to the complaint as exhibits (collectively, the "Granite State policies" or "primary policies"). Policy number 02-LX-009273143-0/000 was effective June 15, 2007 to June 15, 2008. Policy number 02-LX-009273143-1/000 was effective June 15, 2008 to June 15, 2009. Policy number 02-LX-009273143-2/000 was effective June 15, 2009 to June 15, 2010.

NHIC issued three umbrella policies to ABM, copies of which are also attached to the complaint as exhibits (collectively, the "NHIC policies" or "umbrella policies"). Policy number 01-UD-000338726-0/000 was effective June 15, 2007 to June 15, 2008. Policy number 01-UD-000338726-1/000 was effective June 15, 2008 to June 15, 2009. Policy number 01-UD-000338726-2/000 was effective June 15, 2009 to June 15, 2010. It is undisputed that Defendants KB Home Tampa, LLC, and KB Home, Inc., are additional insureds under the primary and umbrella policies.

Granite State and NHIC employed Virtual MGU Insurance ("VMGU") to act as managing general underwriter for the Granite State policies and the NHIC policies. VMGU had the authority to underwrite contracts of insurance, enter into contracts of insurance, and bind insurance coverage on behalf of Granite State and NHIC. VMGU is located in Massachusetts.

For each of the four policies covering the two annual periods from June 15, 2007 to June 15, 2009, ABM's broker, or agent, was the Insurance Office of America ("IOA"), located in Jupiter, Florida. For each of the two policies covering the annual period of June 15, 2009 to June 15, 2010, ABM's broker, or agent, was Lassiter Ware Insurance Agency ("Lassiter Ware"), located in Tampa, Florida.

B. The Chinese Drywall Claims

KB Home contracted with ABM as a subcontractor to provide building materials to be used in the construction of homes in Florida. ABM supplied Chinese drywall to KB Home that was installed in numerous homes in Florida. Homeowners of certain of those homes claimed to have suffered property damages (and in some cases, physical injuries) arising out of the defective drywall.

On January 25, 2010, KB Home filed a lawsuit against ABM, seeking to recover damages suffered by KB Home arising out of the defective Chinese drywall supplied by ABM. That case is styled KB Home Tampa, LLC v. American Building Materials, Inc., Case No. 10-CA-1432, and it is pending in the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit in and for Hillsborough County, Florida.

KB Home and ABM have also been identified as defendants in several class actions pending in multi-district litigation in the Eastern District of Louisiana. These actions include claims on behalf of homeowners against ABM and KB Home on the grounds that ABM supplied defective drywall in the homes constructed by KB Home.

KB Home and ABM have also notified Granite State and NHIC of several potential claims arising out of defective Chinese drywall. These pre-suit claims allege that certain homes built by KB Home have suffered property damage due to defective Chinese drywall supplied by ABM.

C. The Present Lawsuit

On July 13, 2010, Granite State and NHIC brought the present lawsuit against KB Home and ABM. (Dkt. 1.) They seek a declaration that they owe no duty to defend or indemnify ABM or KB Home under the policies for any claim arising out of defective Chinese drywall supplied and installed by the defendants.

On August 19 and 25, 2010, ABM and KB Home, respectively, filed their Answers and asserted several Counterclaims against the plaintiffs. (Dkts. 9, 10.) ABM and KB Home seek a declaration that Granite State and NHIC owe a duty to defend and indemnify ABM and KB Home under the policies for any claim arising out of the defective Chinese drywall. Additionally, ABM and KB Home assert that Granite State and NHIC breached the ...


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