Collapse: Copper River Seafoods, Inc. v. Chubb Custom Insurance Co.

The USDC for the District of Alaska recently granted partial summary judgment to both parties in a dispute over an insurer’s alleged failure to compensate for a “Building Collapse.” In May 2015, the insureds, Copper River Seafood’s Inc. (“CRS”), suffered a partial collapse of their commercial fishing dock. After years of ongoing litigation, the Court is still faced with the question of whether the insurer, Chubb Custom Ins. Co. (“CCI”), is liable for monetary damages to CRS for the partial collapse under the insurance policy.

In interpreting an insurance policy and its provisions, in cases such as this, courts consider four factors: “(1) the language of the disputed provisions in the policy, (2) other provisions in the policy, (3) extrinsic evidence, and (4) case law interpreting similar provisions.” When reviewing the language of disputed provisions, courts construe policy language in accordance with ordinary and customary usage. Further, grants of coverage are construed broadly while exclusions are interpreted narrowly. When reviewing competing interpretations, courts strive to give meaning to all provisions, favoring interpretations that preserve all provisions over those which leave any portion of the writing useless or inexplicable.