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Berkley wins construction dispute over Dolphins stadium

Hard Rock

A W.R. Berkley Corp. unit has prevailed in litigation with a construction firm over a Miami Dolphins football stadium renovation, with the court ruling the claim was filed outside the time limit imposed by its claims-made coverage.

Indianapolis-based Hunt Construction Group Inc., a construction management firm, was hired by Miami Gardens, Florida-based South Florida Stadium LLC in a project to renovate Hard Rock Stadium in Miami, according to Thursday’s ruling by the U.S. District Court in New York in Berkley Assurance Co. v. Hunt  Construction Group Inc.

Berkley Assurance, a unit of Greenwich, Connecticut-based W.R. Berkley Corp., issued Hunt a claim made professional liability policy, according to the ruling.

Hunt selected St. Louis-based Alberici Constructors Inc., which does business as Hillsdale Fabricators, for design and steel fabrication services for the stadium’s rooftop canopy structure. Hillsdale complained that because Hunt improperly performed design and construction services it had incurred additional and unforeseen costs.

The situation led to litigation between Hunt, Hillsdale and the project’s lead engineer. Hunt filed a claim with Berkley in the matter five days after the 2016-2017 policy period ended and five days into the 2017-18 policy period. Berkley refused coverage on the ground the claim was not covered by a contractual liability exclusion.

Berkley also denied coverage for a claim filed against Hunt by South Florida Stadium, although SFS has not filed suit against Hunt.

Berkley then filed suit against Hunt, seeking a declaration it was not obligated to provide coverage for the claims, and Hunt filed counterclaims against Berkley.

The Hillsdale claim is not covered by the 2016-2017 policy and Berkley has no duty to defend Hunt against it, because Hunt “failed to report that claim within the time allotted by the policy,” said the ruling. “Hunt’s attempts to create ambiguity out of the policy’s plain language are unavailing,” it said.

The court also ruled against Hunt on the South Florida Stadium claims. The South Florida Stadium and the Hillsdale claims, which are related, can be considered a single claim, it said. “And because Hunt did not make the Hillsdale claim until after the 2016-2017 Policy period expired, it further follows that the SFS claim was made outside of the reporting period and is not covered,” said the ruling, in granting Berkley’s motion for summary judgment in the case.

Attorneys in the case did not respond to a request for comment.





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