Firm News

The Allen Law Group Obtains a Defense for a Property Manager from a Premise Owner’s Liability Insurer

September 27, 2017

On September 27, 2017, Houston federal judge Alfred Bennett granted summary judgment to TALG client Alliance Communities, Ltd. (“Alliance”) that the insurer of the owner of an apartment complex managed by Alliance owed Alliance a duty to defend in connection with a severe bodily injury case on file in Houston state court.

Alliance is one of the nation’s largest managers of apartment complexes, including Front Range Piney Point (“Front Range”) in Houston. When workers on a maintenance project at Front Range sustained serious bodily injuries (one of them lost both of his arms and suffered burns all over his body); they filed suit against Alliance, Front Range and the maintenance subcontractor.

As a real estate manager for Front Range, Alliance requested a defense under an Evanston Insurance Company (“Evanston”) policy issued to Front Range. Evanston, however, denied the defense request and intervened in an already pending Declaratory Judgment Action seeking a ruling that it did not owe a defense to Alliance. Evanston took the position that the plaintiffs in the state court bodily injury suit were employees of the maintenance subcontractor and thus coverage to Alliance was excluded under the Evanston policy pursuant to an EMPLOYEES OF INDEPENDENT CONTRACTORS exclusion. Evanston also argued that a Building Code Violation exclusion precluded coverage to Alliance.

After a round of competing Motions for Summary Judgments, Responses, Replies and oral argument, Judge Bennett sided with Alliance and rejected Evanston’s arguments holding that the exclusions relied on by Evanston did not apply. In so doing, Judge Bennett refused to entertain extrinsic evidence offered by Evanston and he also ruled that Evanston’s duty to indemnify was not yet ripe.