Recent Third Circuit Decision Provides Insight into Pennsylvania’s Approach to CGL Coverage for Faulty Construction Claims

By: Richard F. Paciaroni & Amy Ream, K&L Gates, Pittsburgh

Despite substantial uniformity in language among commercial general liability (“CGL”) policies, the extent of coverage can vary depending upon which state’s law applies.  One contested issue among the states is whether CGL policies should extend coverage for property damage caused by faulty construction, and what the extent of any such coverage should be.  This article discusses a recent opinion reflecting the current status of Pennsylvania law with respect to CGL coverage for faulty construction claims, and briefly touches on the policy behind Pennsylvania’s existing approach.

A recent Third Circuit decision applying Pennsylvania law, Specialty Surfaces International, Inc. v. Continental Casualty Co., addressed the scope of an insurer’s duty to defend and indemnify a contractor for faulty workmanship claims under a CGL policy.  In Specialty Surfaces, the source of the defective construction allegations stemmed from a project to install synthetic turf fields and drainage systems for four schools in the Shasta Union High School District (“Shasta”).  Empire and Associates, Inc. (“Empire”) was hired as a subcontractor to provide and install synthetic turf fields manufactured by Specialty Surfaces, Inc., (“Specialty Surfaces”) as well as to install drainage systems.  Empire and Specialty Surfaces, working together as “Sprinturf,” provided an eight-year warranty for each of the fields.

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