“Contractor?” I Do Not Think That Employers’ Liability Exclusion Means What You Think It Means


Over the summer, this blog reported on how the supreme Court of Pennsylvania managed to parse an employer’s liability exclusion to find that it did not exclude claims by employees of additional insureds. As the leaves started to turn, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit put an employer’s exclusion under a similar microscope. In United States Liab. Ins. Co. V. Benchmark Constr. Svcs., Inc., No. 14-1832 (1st Cir. Aug. 12, 2015), a case arising out of a home renovation, the court found that the word “contractor” is ambiguous. Notwithstanding the exclusion, therefore, a general contractor was entitled to coverage for injury to a house painter who had been hired by the project’s architect.

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