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Liberty Insurance Corporation v. Admiral Insurance Co.

United States District Court, N.D. New York

April 17, 2015

LIBERTY INSURANCE CORPORATION, Plaintiff,
v.
ADMIRAL INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendant.

DAVID R. SHYER, ESQ., MARSHALL T. POTASHNER, ESQ., JAFFE, ASHER LAW FIRM, New York, New York, Attorneys for Plaintiff.

JUSTIN N. KINNEY, ESQ., COUGHLIN, DUFFY LAW FIRM, New York, New York, Attorneys for Defendant.

MEMORANDUM-DECISION AND ORDER

MAE A. D'AGOSTINO, District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

On July 29, 2014, Plaintiff Liberty Insurance Corporation ("Liberty") commenced this action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a), alleging that Defendant Admiral Insurance Company ("Admiral") has violated its liability insurance coverage obligations. See Dkt. No. 1.

Currently before the Court is Plaintiff's motion for partial summary judgment and Defendant's motion for summary judgment. See Dkt. Nos. 14, 16.

II. BACKGROUND

A. The Underlying Actions

On or about October 21, 2013, Kevin Harrington ("Harrington") commenced an action entitled Kevin Harrington v. State University Construction Fund, Christa Construction, LLC, and Schenectady Steel Co. Inc., Index No. 244917, in the Supreme Court of the State of New York, County of Rensselaer. Dkt. No. 14-9 at 2; see also Dkt. No. 14-16 at 1. Harrington commenced a separate action in the New York Court of Claims, entitled Kevin Harrington v. The State of New York and State University of New York College at Oneonta, Claim No. 13-155. Dkt. No. 14-10 at 2; see also Dkt. No. 14-16 at 2. Admiral and Liberty seek a declaratory judgment determining whether Liberty has a co-primary duty to defend and indemnify Christa Construction LLC ("Christa"), the State University of New York Construction Fund ("the Fund"), the State of New York ("the State"), and the State University of New York College at Oneonta ("SUNY Oneonta") in Harrington's State Court and Court of Claims actions ("the underlying actions"), by virtue of an endorsement in Liberty's Commercial General Liability ("CGL") policy. See Dkt. No. 10 at 2; see also Dkt. No. 14-3 at 6-7.

B. The Contracts

In an agreement dated November 8, 2011, the Fund hired Christa as the general contractor for the rehabilitation of Fitzelle Hall, a building at SUNY Oneonta ("the project"). Dkt. No. 16-14 at 2. On August 10, 2012, Christa hired Schenectady Steel Co. Inc. ("Schenectady") as a subcontractor on the project pursuant to a written agreement (the "Schenectady Contract"). Dkt. No. 16-17 at 2. In turn, Schenectady hired Capital Construction Management Services LLC ("Capital") as a sub-subcontractor on the project (the "Capital Subcontract"). Dkt. No. 16-16 at 2. Schenectady obtained CGL insurance coverage from Liberty, and Capital obtained CGL insurance coverage from Admiral. See Dkt. Nos. 14-2, 14-8.

1. The Capital Subcontract

The Capital Subcontract contains the following provision:

ARTICLE 13 INSURANCE AND BONDS
§ 13.1 The Subcontractor shall purchase and maintain insurance of the following types of coverage and limits of liability as will protect the Subcontractor from claims that may arise out of, or result from, the Subcontractor's operations and completed operations under the Subcontract:
Type of insurance
Submit insurance prior to commencement of work at job site. Insurance shall be in accordance with Requirements of the Prime Contract and Have the following Wording:
SSCI Job # K1203-Christa Job#2011-27 - Contract #XXXXXXX-XXX - Schenectady Steel Co. Inc., Christa Construction, State University Construction Fund (SUCF), The State of New York, The State University of New York, their trustees, officers agents or employees, Lomanaco & Pitts Architects are to be named additional insureds. This insurance shall apply as primary insurance, on a noncontributory basis before any other insurance or self insurance, including any deductible maintained by or provided to, the additional insureds. Waiver of Subrogation is required. There shall be no labor law exclusion.

Dkt. No. 16-16 at 14-15.

2. Admiral's Policy

Admiral issued Capital a CGL policy, No. CA000017326-01, with a policy period from January 10, 2013 to January 10, 2014 ("the Admiral Policy"). See Dkt. No. 14-8 at 3-4. The Admiral Policy contains the following provision:

4. Other Insurance
If other valid and collectible insurance is available to the insured for a loss we cover under Coverages A or B of this Coverage Part, our obligations are limited as follows:
a. Primary Insurance
This insurance is primary except when Paragraph b. below applies. If this insurance is primary, our obligations are not affected unless any of the other insurance is also primary. Then, we will share with all that other insurance by the method described in Paragraph c. below.
b. Excess Insurance
(1) This insurance is excess over:
....
(b) Any other primary insurance available to you covering liability for damages arising out of the premises or operations, or the products and completed operations, for which you have been added as an additional insured by attachment of an endorsement.

Id. at 18. The Admiral Policy also contains a "PRIMARY/NON-CONTRIBUTING INSURANCE ENDORSEMENT[, ...


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