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A sagging roof is not a collapse. Exclusion for fungi, wet rot, dry rot or bacteria precludes coverage for sagging trusses.

April 1, 2018
Intergroup Int’l Ltd. v. Cincinnati Ins. Cos., 2017 Ohio-8660

In 2014, the insured reported that the trusses holding up its roof had moved and were sagging. After a forensic inspection by an outside engineering firm, the insurer denied the claim on the basis that the damage to the trusses was not storm related but was due to rot and decay. The insured challenged the denial as the policy had a rider for “collapse” coverage. The insurer reviewed the claim again and once more denied it, maintaining that a building in imminent danger of collapse has not collapsed and a building that is still standing has not collapsed. Therefore, the “collapse” coverage did not apply.

A year later, a portion of the roof collapsed, and the insured reported another claim. Although there was no dispute the roof had collapsed, the claim was denied. After a forensic inspection by an outside engineer, the insurer argued it was the result of rot and decay that was known or reasonably should have been known to the insured prior to the collapse.

The insured filed suit, and the trial court granted summary judgment in favor of the insurer. On appeal, the Court of Appeals affirmed summary judgment in favor of the insurer on the first claim, finding that there was no evidence of a weather event that caused the sagging trusses; the sagging trusses resulted from rot, which is excluded from coverage; and, since the building did not collapse, the endorsement for collapse coverage was inapplicable.

In a 2-1 decision, the Court of Appeals reversed summary judgment on the second loss, finding that there was an issue of fact as to whether the 2015 collapse resulted from decay hidden from view and not known or reasonably should have been known by the insured prior to the collapse. There was a question of fact as to whether the rot that caused the collapse in 2015 was in the same area as the rot that was observed in 2014.

 

Case Law Alerts, 2nd Quarter, April 2018

Case Law Alerts is prepared by Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin to provide information on recent developments of interest to our readers. This publication is not intended to provide legal advice for a specific situation or to create an attorney-client relationship. Copyright © 2018 Marshall Dennehey Warner Coleman & Goggin, all rights reserved. This article may not be reprinted without the express written permission of our firm.

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David J. Fagnilli
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djfagnilli@mdwcg.com

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