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A federal district court has refused to reconsider a ruling it issued against RLI Insurance Co. in a dispute with an architecture firm over its claims-made policy.
Peoria, Illinois-based RLI had issued a professional liability policy to architecture firm Architrave Inc. for periods including May 6, 2017, to May 6, 2018, according to Friday’s ruling by the U.S. District Court in Columbia, South Carolina, in RLI Insurance Co. v. Architrave Inc., Mount Moriah Missionary Baptist Church Inc.
In September 2017, the Charleston, South Carolina church had filed a lawsuit against Columbia-based Architrave arising from its worship center’s construction, according to the ruling.
RLI agreed to provide a defense, pursuant to a reservation of rights. But it filed suit in district court seeking a declaration it had no duty to defend or indemnify Architrave in the underlying lawsuit on the basis that demand letters sent by the church to Architrave in October and December 2016 constituted a claim and preceded the policy period, according to court papers.
The District Court ruled against RLI in September 2019. The insurer then filed a motion with the court asking it to alter or amend its earlier ruling, which the court refused to do in Friday’s ruling.
There is only “a tenuous link between the issues raised in the Church’s letters – complications with the HVAC system and water leaks – and defendant Architrave’s professional liability,” said the ruling.
“Absent relevant context surrounding the Church’s letters and Defendant Architrave’s role in the design and construction of the worship center, a decision at this juncture would require the court to depart from (the federal rule of civil procedure) and rely on mere speculation,” the ruling said, in concluding “there is no clear error of law nor manifest injustice” in its September order.
Architrave’s attorney had no comment, while RLI’s attorneys did not respond to a request for comment.
Last May, a federal appeals court affirmed a lower court ruling and held that RLI, which provided umbrella coverage to the city of Visalia, California, had no duty to indemnify or defend the municipality in a pollution case based on a policy exclusion.
PEORIA, Ill.--Recently formed facultative reinsurer RLI Reinsurance will use the Catastrophe Risk Exchange Inc.'s Pivot Point Web-based reinsurance transaction system to manage its underwriting processes.