N.Y. Team Obtains Summary Judgment in First-Party Action Concerning Gas Piping Replacement at Large Residential Cooperative Apartment Building

Lewis Brisbois recently obtained summary judgment for an insurance client in a first party action brought by a large Park Avenue cooperative apartment building in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. 

The plaintiff alleged that a gas leak in its building was caused when contractors struck a gas meter in the building’s basement with a large, wheeled recycling bin. The meter was repaired, but the entire system throughout the large building had to undergo rigorous pressure testing before the City of New York and the utility would restore gas, requiring the plaintiff to make over $500,000 in upgrades and repairs to pass the tests. The plaintiff filed a claim for the costs to conduct the testing and system replacements and modifications with our client, its insurance carrier. Our client denied the claim, as the testing costs and upgrades were not covered by the policy. When its insurance claim was denied, the plaintiff filed suit against our client, arguing that the damage should have been covered by the “vehicles” exception in the Gas Systems Endorsement contained in its policy. We disagreed, contending that just because the bin had wheels did not mean that it qualified as a “vehicle.”

The judge agreed, noting that that exceptions in the endorsement were clearly designed with true catastrophes in mind – other exceptions in the policy included fires, riots, and volcanic eruptions – and a mobile recycling bin did not qualify as a vehicle. Our motion for summary judgment was granted.

New York Partners Seth Weinstein and Jay Weintraub handled the matter.

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