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Georgia Supreme Court Rules Construction Defects Can Constitute an Occurrence in CGL Policies

April 5, 2011 — April 5, 2011 Beverley BevenFlorez - Construction Defect Journal

Recently, the Supreme Court of Georgia reversed the decision in American Empire Surplus Lines Insurance Company v Hathaway Development Company, Inc. stating that because Whisnant’s faulty workmanship caused damage to the surrounding properties, the construction defects constituted “occurrences” under the Commercial General Liability (CGL) policy. Unlike the South Carolina Supreme court ruling in the case of Crossman Communities v Harleysville Mutual, the Georgia Supreme Court stated that an accident can happen intentionally if the effect is not the intended result.

Interestingly, the only dissenting judge, J. Melton, disagreed with his colleagues on the basis that “although the term ‘accident’ is not specifically defined in the policy, it is axiomatic that an ‘accident’ cannot result from ‘intentional’ behavior.” It is clear that what constitutes an occurrence in CGL policies is still being hotly debated.

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Georgia Supreme Court Rules Construction Defects Can Constitute an Occurrence in CGL Policies