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Building owner rejected in ongoing Superstorm Sandy coverage dispute


The New York Supreme Court has rejected the latest in an ongoing effort by a commercial property owner and developer to obtain insurance coverage in connection with 2012's Superstorm Sandy.

New York-based investment holding company Orient Overseas Associates, originally filed suit against New York-based real estate management firm Cushman & Wakefield Inc. and several insurers in June 2013 in connection with damage sustained by Superstorm Sandy to its Pine Street building in New York, according to Thursday’s ruling in Orient Overseas Associates v. XL Insurance America Inc. et al.

The extensive litigation in the case has focused on Orient’s property policies’ flood sublimits. The latest ruling, which is in response to the second amended complaint, focuses only on Cushman & Wakefield, not on the insurers.

“As Cushman correctly observes,” the latest amended complaint in the case “constitutes the third change of story by (Orient) in an attempt to state a breach of contract claim against Cushman,” says Justice Shirley Werner Kornreich in her ruling.

“Orient’s new theory” says Cushman breached its agreement because of its failure to follow Orient’s annual direction to place insurance, says the ruling. But the complaint “does not identify a direction from Orient because Orient failed to produce evidence of the precise terms of such coverage,” said the ruling.

In addition, “each year the policy summaries provided by Cushman to Orient clearly disclose flood sublimits,” said the ruling, in dismissing the case with prejudice.

The justice did, however, deny Cushman’s motion to sanction Orient Overseas in the case, stating Orient’s theories “while meritless, are not frivolous.”

New York University is suing an FM Global unit for $1.47 billion in coverage it claims was denied in connection with property and business interruption losses sustained from Sandy.

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