877 F.3d 600 (5th Cir. 2017), 16-20195, Lyda Swinerton Builders, Inc. v. Oklahoma Surety Co.

Docket Nº:16-20195
Citation:877 F.3d 600
Opinion Judge:JAMES E. GRAVES, JR., Circuit Judge:
Party Name:LYDA SWINERTON BUILDERS, INCORPORATED, Plaintiff-Appellee/Cross-Appellant v. OKLAHOMA SURETY COMPANY, Defendant-Appellant/Cross-Appellee
Attorney:Joseph L. Oliva, Charles L. Fanning, Esq., Morris, Sullivan & Lemkul, San Diego, CA, John L. Grayson, Cokinos Young, Houston, TX, for Plaintiff-Appellee Cross-Appellant. Richard Brent Cooper, Esq., Timothy Micah Dortch, Diana L. Faust, Cooper & Scully, P.C., Dallas, TX, for Defendant-Appellant Cr...
Judge Panel:Before DAVIS, GRAVES, and COSTA, Circuit Judges.
Case Date:December 12, 2017
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
SUMMARY

OSC filed suit challenging the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of LSB on OSC's duty to defend, OSC's breach of that duty, and OSC's liability under the Texas Prompt Payment of Claims Act (PPCA). OSC also appealed the denial of its partial motion for summary judgment based on the anti-stacking rule. The Fifth Circuit held that there were no genuine issues of material fact and... (see full summary)

 
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877 F.3d 600 (5th Cir. 2017)

LYDA SWINERTON BUILDERS, INCORPORATED, Plaintiff-Appellee/Cross-Appellant

v.

OKLAHOMA SURETY COMPANY, Defendant-Appellant/Cross-Appellee

No. 16-20195

United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit

December 12, 2017

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Appeals from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Keith P. Ellison, U.S. District Judge

Joseph L. Oliva, Charles L. Fanning, Esq., Morris, Sullivan & Lemkul, San Diego, CA, John L. Grayson, Cokinos Young, Houston, TX, for Plaintiff-Appellee Cross-Appellant.

Richard Brent Cooper, Esq., Timothy Micah Dortch, Diana L. Faust, Cooper & Scully, P.C., Dallas, TX, for Defendant-Appellant Cross-Appellee.

Before DAVIS, GRAVES, and COSTA, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

JAMES E. GRAVES, JR., Circuit Judge:

This case involves several issues of Texas law relating to an insurer's duty to defend and the damages that an insured may recover when an insurer breaches that duty. The district court, after disposing of much of the case through a series of partial summary judgment rulings and conducting a bench trial on one remaining claim, issued a final judgment that largely (though not entirely) favored the insured. The insurer and the insured now cross-appeal from that judgment. We AFFIRM in part and REVERSE in part.

  1. BACKGROUND

A. The Project and the Subcontract

Lyda Swinerton Builders, Inc. (" LSB" ) is a Texas-based general contractor. In November 2003, LSB was hired to build a ten-story office building in College Station, Texas. LSB, in turn, hired numerous subcontractors, among them A.D. Willis Company, Inc. (" Willis" ). The subcontract agreement between LSB and Willis, which dates to April 2005, defined the scope of Willis' work as " ROOFING, ORNAMENTAL METAL, METAL WALL PANELS, and ROUGH CARPENTRY." The subcontract required Willis to maintain a general liability insurance policy designating LSB as an additional insured with respect to liabilities arising out of Willis' work under the subcontract. The subcontract also contained an indemnification provision, which read: TO THE FULLEST EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW, SUBCONTRACTOR AGREES TO DEFEND, HOLD HARMLESS AND UNCONDITIONALLY INDEMNIFY CONTRACTOR AND OWNER ... AND ALL PARTIES WHOM CONTRACTOR IS REQUIRED TO INDEMNIFY PURSUANT TO THE TERMS OF THE CONTRACT DOCUMENTS, AGAINST AND FOR ALL LIABILITY, COSTS, EXPENSES, CLAIMS, LIENS, CITATIONS, PENALTIES, FINES, ATTORNEYS' FEES, LOSSES, AND DAMAGES WHICH CONTRACTOR MAY AT ANY TIME SUFFER OR SUSTAIN OR BECOME LIABLE FOR BY REASON OF ANY ACCIDENTS, DAMAGES, OR INJURIES EITHER TO THE PERSONS OR PROPERTY OR BOTH OF CONTRACTOR, OWNER OR

Page 606 SUBCONTRACTOR, OR OF THE WORKERS OF SUCH PARTIES, OR OF ANY OTHER PARTIES, OR TO THE PROPERTY OF ANY PARTY, IN ANY MANNER ARISING OUT OF OR RESULTING FROM SUBCONTRACTOR'S PERFORMANCE OR FAILURE TO PERFORM HEREUNDER, OR FAILURE OR DEFECTS IN MATERIALS OR GOODS SUPPLIED BY OR ON BEHALF OF SUBCONTRACTOR, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, ANY NEGLIGENT ACT OR OMISSION OR CLAIM INVOLVING STRICT LIABILITY OR NEGLIGENCE PER SE OF CONTRACTOR OR OWNER, THEIR OFFICERS, DIRECTORS, SHAREHOLDERS, EMPLOYEES, AGENTS, CONTRACTOR'S SURETY AND ALL PARTIES WHOM CONTRACTOR IS REQUIRED TO INDEMNIFY PURSUANT TO THE TERMS OF THE CONTRACT DOCUMENTS.

THE COVERAGE OF ANY INSURANCE POLICY REQUIRED HEREIN OR ACTUALLY CARRIED BY SUBCONTRACTOR SHALL NOT LIMIT THE EXTENT OF SUBCONTRACTOR'S LIABILITY UNDER THE FOREGOING INDEMNITY.

Before returning the signed subcontract to LSB, Willis' president made several handwritten changes to the document, including striking out the portion of the indemnification provision indicated above. LSB did not countersign the subcontract, and there is no evidence in the record that LSB noticed or objected to Willis' alterations.

B. The OSC Policy

Willis subsequently obtained a commercial general liability insurance policy from Oklahoma Surety Company (" OSC" ) with a policy period of February 1, 2006 to February 1, 2007. The OSC Policy identified Willis as the " Named Insured" and as a " COMMERCIAL ROOFING CONTRACTOR." The policy provided that: [OSC] will pay those sums that the insured becomes legally obligated to pay as damages because of " bodily injury" or " property damage" to which this insurance applies. [OSC] will have the right and duty to defend the insured against any " suit" seeking those damages. However, [OSC] will have no duty to defend the insured against any " suit" seeking damages for " bodily injury" or " property damage" to which this insurance does not apply. [OSC] may, at [its] discretion, investigate any " occurrence" and settle any claim or " suit" that may result.

The policy contained an endorsement naming " Lyda Builders & its parent & affiliated companies" as additional insureds, " but only with respect to liability directly attributable to [Willis'] performance of ‘ [Willis'] work' for [LSB and LSB's parent and affiliates]." Elsewhere, the policy defined Willis' " work" as " [w]ork or operations performed by [Willis] or on [its] behalf" and " [m]aterials, parts or equipment furnished in connection with such work or operations." The endorsement also stated that it applied " only when [Willis] ha[s] agreed by written ‘ insured contract' to designate [LSB and its parents and affiliates] as an additional insured subject to all provisions and limitations of this policy." The term " insured contract" was defined to include " [t]hat part of any other contract or agreement pertaining to [Willis'] business ... under which [Willis] assume[s] the tort liability of another party to pay for ‘ bodily injury' or ‘ property damage' to a third person or organization. Tort liability means a liability that would be imposed by law in the absence of any contract or agreement." The term " property damage" was defined as:

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a. Physical injury to tangible property, including all resulting loss of use of that property. All such loss of use shall be deemed to occur at the time of the physical injury that caused it; or

b. Loss of use of tangible property that is not physically injured. All such loss of use shall be deemed to occur at the time of the ‘ occurrence' that caused it.

C. The Underlying State-Court Lawsuit

In January 2005, the owner of the College Station project assigned its interest in the contract with LSB to Adam Development Properties, L.P. (" ADP" ). On February 12, 2008, ADP filed an original petition in Texas state court against LSB and LSB's parent company. That petition sought damages against LSB for breach of contract and alleged, in pertinent part, that: • LSB entered into the contract for the project on or about November 17, 2003; the date of commencement of the project was December 1, 2003; and the projected deadline for substantial completion was January 28, 2005.

• " It has now been well over four years since commencement of the project, and approximately three years since the contractual deadline for substantial completion expired, and the project is still far from being substantially complete. Throughout the course of the project, LSB's performance of the Work under the contract documents has been marked by numerous material deficiencies. Without limitation, the portions of the Work affected by such deficiencies include the exterior granite faç ade, the curtain wall systems, the punch window systems, the precast panel connections, the roof, the dormers, the rotunda, the joint sealant, the drywall, the fire protection systems, the HVAC systems, and the electrical systems."

• " In addition, LSB has consistently failed to comply with its contractual obligations to adequately supervise work performed by subcontractors; to supply sufficient skilled workers and suitable materials necessary to complete the Work in accordance with the contract documents; to take adequate protective measures to prevent damage to the Work resulting from exposure to the elements; to timely provide monthly project reports and project schedules; to promptly pay monies owed to subcontractors; and to resolve, remove or discharge liens filed against the project by subcontractors."

• " In the months prior to February 1, 2008, many of LSB's subcontractors had already removed their crews, heavy equipment, machinery, and tools from the project jobsite. Since that date, LSB and the few remaining subcontractors still at the jobsite removed most of their heavy equipment, machinery, and tools...."

• For these and other reasons, " on February 13, 2008, pursuant to the terms of the contract documents, ADP terminated the contract."

In April 2011...

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