Technicality Hurts California Glass Supplier’s Legal Case

After settling for $1.3 million out of court over allegedly defective glass, a California glass manufacturer’s case isn’t covered by its Liberty Mutual insurance policy, according to court documents filed December 2021.

Sweig General Construction Inc. was a general contractor building a $20 million home in La Jolla, Calif. According to court documents, the design called for approximately  180 lites of large, heavy, specialized glass. Sweig subcontracted the glass package to Giroux Glass Inc., which purchased the lites from Glasswerks LA (GWLA). GWLA fabricated and supplied the finished lites to Giroux for installation.

GWLA purchased stock glass from glass manufacturer AGC, then fabricated  the glass and delivered it to Giroux. Court documents allege that some of the GWLA glass was defective and had to be replaced. After installation, the glass developed pinkish-purple splotches.

“To remove the defective panels, Giroux had to destroy and remove the non-defective, non-GWLA finishes such as stucco, stone flooring, porcelain, tile, Venetian plaster and drywall. This replacement required destruction of the encapsulating finishes, including the stone, tile, drywall, plaster, paint, porcelain and custom metals. Some of the replacement panels were defective and had to be removed and replaced a second time, causing more damage to the non-GWLA finishes,” say documents filed by GWLA. In 2018, Giroux and others made claims regarding damages caused by the allegedly defective glass.

After claims from Giroux and Sweig, GWLA requested its insurer, Liberty Insurance Corporation, provide it with a defense against those claims under a commercial general liability insurance policy. However, in accordance with Liberty Mutuals’ terms, it only provides for defense against suits not against claims. Liberty declined to defend the claims and requested GWLA provide it with a copy of the lawsuit if ever initiated by Sweig or Giroux. Before Sweig or Giroux filed a suit, GWLA elected to settle its claims.

“Thus, the subject claims never matured into ‘suits,’ as defined by the policy, and, consequently, Liberty’s duty to defend a ‘suit’ under the policy, did not, and could not ever, arise.”

The Court granted Liberty’s motion to dismiss on December 8, 2021.

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