Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman

Is faulty workmanship an occurrence under a CGL policy? West Virginia now says yes

By Laura R Thomson

After more than a decade in the ‘no’ column, West Virginia can now be counted among — as its highest court reports — the majority of states that recognise that defective construction causing bodily injury or property damage is an ‘occurrence’ under standard CGL policies. 

In this June 2013 decision, the court expressly overruled its prior pronouncements on this issue in Erie Ins. Property & Cas. Co v Pioneer Home Improvement, Inc [206 W.Va 506 (1999)]; Corder v William W. Smith Excavating Co [210 W. Va. 110 (2001)]; Webster County Solid Waste Auth’y v Brackenrich & Assoc’s, Inc [217 W. Va. 304 (2005)]; as well as McGann v Hobbs Lumber Co [150 W. Va. 364 (1965)] and their progeny.

Cherrington is a case involving coverage for defective construction of a home under the general contractor’s CGL policy and under its principal’s homeowner’s and umbrella policies, all issued by Erie Insurance Property & Cas. Company. In the underlying complaint against Pinnacle Group (the general contractor), Cherrington (the homeowner), sued for negligent construction and breach of fiduciary duty and sought to recover for emotional distress as well as for damages resulting from defects in her home discovered after completion — defects resulting from the work of Pinnacle’s subcontractors…

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