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The New Hampshire Supreme Court on Wednesday unanimously affirmed a lower court ruling in favor of a Cincinnati Insurance Cos. unit in litigation filed by an injured worker, based on a policy exclusion.
Cincinnati Insurance unit Cincinnati Specialty Underwriters Insurance Co. insured Francistown, New Hampshire-based Best Way Homes Inc., according to the ruling by the state’s high court in Cincinnati Specialty Underwriters Insurance Co. v. Best Way Homes, Inc.
In 2012, Best Way entered into a contract with a homeowner to perform renovations at his residence, including construction of a deck with an attached staircase. Best Way subcontracted its construction to another company, which completed the project in 2012.
In 2017, the homeowner hired Russell Blodgett to perform plumbing services at the property. Mr. Blodgett was injured when the staircase separated from the deck as he was descending it, causing him to fall about 10 feet and suffer injuries, according to the ruling.
Mr. Blodgett filed suit against the homeowner, and against Best Way for negligence and negligent hiring and supervision. At the time of the injury, but not at the time of construction, Best Way was the named insured under CSU’s coverage, which was an occurrence policy.
The coverage included an exclusion for work performed by independent contractors or subcontractors.
The Supreme Court agreed with the lower court that the exclusion applied. The claims against Best Way “flow from the subcontractor’s alleged negligence and establish a causal connection between the subcontractor’s work, and Blodgett’s claims against Best Way,” it said.
“Accordingly, we conclude that all claims against Best Way arose out of the work of the subcontractor and the exclusionary provision precludes coverage in the underlying litigation.”
Attorneys in the case did not respond to requests for comment.
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