A Texas Commercial Policy Dispute

Let’s say a guy in Grand Prairie, Arlington, De Soto, Mansfield, Fort Worth, or any other place in Texas hires a contractor to reroof his property. Next, someone gets injured. Is there coverage for the injured person’s injuries?
The answer is the typical “it depends.” In the case, Atlantice Casualty Insurance Company v. PV Roofing Corp., et al. Horatio Gonzalez (Horatio) was injured when a ladder he was moving hit an electrical line. This case was decided by Stephen Wm. Smith, United States Magistrate Judge, U.S. District Court, S.D. Texas, Houston Division, on May 20, 2010.
In this case, PV Roofing was the roofing contractor on the job site. PV hired an independent contractor, Bernardo Mejia, to complete the roofing job. On the day of the incident, Mejia went to the job site to do a final inspection and took Horatio with him. Horatio was not paid by either PV or Mejia for any servies in connection with the roofing job.
PV had a commercial general liability policy with Atlantic Casualty Insurance Company (Atlantic). The Atlantic policy had an exclusion in the policy excluding liabilty for “employees, contractors and employees of contractors.” It also excluded claims “arising out of” actions or inactions by an independent contractor or subcontractor.
PV, Horatio, and Mejia, claimed that Horatio should be covered since he was not one of the above.
Atlantic pointed out that the policy endorsement defined “employee.”
“Employee” shall include, but is not limited to, any person or persons hired, loaned, leased, contracted, or volunteering for the purpose of providing services to or on behalf of any insured, whether or not paid for such services and whether or not an independent contractor.
In the case, the uncontroverted facts are that Horatio went with Mejia to the job site on the day of the accident. They were the only persons at the job site. While Mejia was performing his final inspection, he noticed that some shingles needed repair. He climbed a ladder and made one repair. He needed to move the ladder to make another repair and asked Horatio to move the ladder. Horatio was injured when the ladder came in contact with high voltage lines. The court stated that these facts are sufficient to bring Horatio within the very broad definition of “employee” contained in the policy exclusion and thus, there was no coverage.

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