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INSURANCE LITIGATION: Superior Court holds defendant insurer had duty to defend where dispute related to covered premises in relation to fall

INSURANCE LITIGATION: Superior Court Holds Defendant Insurer Had Duty To Defend Where Dispute Related To Covered Premises In Relation To Fall

The plaintiff brought an action against Travelers for a declaratory judgment that Travelers had a duty to defend and indemnify the plaintiff for a claim brought against a tenant of the plaintiff.  Travelers argued the insurance policy covered Willard Donuts for liability arising out of the ownership, maintenance, or use of leased premises, which Travelers argued did not include the step outside the first door to enter into the Donut shop upon which the claimant tripped and fell landing in the vestibule of the business.  The lease agreement between the plaintiff and Willard Donuts specified the landlord would retain maintenance of the roof and outside walls of the premises.  The court held that Travelers has a duty to defend the plaintiff, reasoning the duty to defend is broader than the duty to indemnify and is triggered “if at least one allegation of the complaint falls even possibly within the coverage.”  The court reasoned that even where there is a dispute about the duty to indemnify, such that the issue must go to a trier of fact, the defendant still has a duty to defend.  Willard Shopping Center Associates, LLC v. Travelers Casualty Insurance, No. CV17-6033163; May 1, 2019