ASA SLDF Joins ABC in Oregon Insurance Case
Following a brief period of downtime in the movement of cases through the judicial system surrounding COVID, the ASA Subcontractor Legal Defense Fund has been active in 2022-2023. Today we are highlighting our participation in the Twigg v. Admiral Insurance Company case pending before the Oregon Supreme Court.
The dispute at issue concerns whether an insurance company, Admiral Insurance, had a duty to indemnify the insured contractor and pay a portion of an arbitration award that homeowners, the Twiggs, obtained against the contractor for breach of contract. After the owners obtained the arbitration award, they sued the insurer for breaching its insurance policy with the contractor when it failed to pay a portion of the contractor’s liability to the Twiggs under the arbitration award.
Both the trial court and Court of Appeals concluded that the contractor’s insurance policy did not provide coverage for its liability to the Twiggs. The courts noted that the insurance policy in question applied to property damage caused by an "occurrence," defined as an "accident" but that the contractor’s liability to the owners arose instead from a breach of a separate settlement agreement, while the owners argued that the defective construction work qualified as an occurrence under the relevant policy. The issue on appeal to the Supreme Court is whether the applicable insurance policy provides coverage for the legal liability the Contractor incurred in the second arbitration proceeding.
From a subcontractor perspective, proper application of a broad interpretation of “occurrence” is of specific interest and, as with many of these insurance coverage disputes, virtually all tiers involved in the construction projects. The importance of maintaining a broad interpretation of the scope of insurance coverage and protecting the interests of subcontractors in the interpretation of the scope of covered claims was the deciding factor for participation. In this case, SLDF joined the ABC-Oregon Columbia Chapter in its amicus brief on behalf of the contractor.
To support these Subcontractor Legal Defense Fund efforts on behalf of our subcontractor community across the country, go to www.sldf.net.