In a ruling earlier this month, an Oklahoma appellate court ruled in JP Energy Marketing LLC v. Commerce and Industry Insurance Co., No. 115285, 2017 WL 7903997 (Okla. Civ. App. March 01, 2018), that additional insured status would be afforded to a project owner despite the absence of a direct contract between the project owner and the subcontractor requiring that the project owner be named as an additional insured, finding that a direct contract was not required where the insurance policies did not use the words “between” or “direct” to describe the level of contractual relationship that would give rise to additional insured status. The decision underscores the importance of carefully evaluating the language used in “additional insured” provisions, which can vary widely in scope and effect.
A recent ruling by U.S. District Judge Paul Byron of the Middle District of Florida has made clear that the actual words used in an insurance contract matter. The court, in Mt. Hawley Insurance Co. v. Tactic Security Enforcement, Inc., No. 6:16-cv-01425 (M.D. FL. 2018), denied an insurance company’s motion for summary judgment attempting to rely on an exclusion to deny coverage to its policyholder. The policyholder, Que Rico La Casa Del Mofongo, operated a restaurant establishment in Orlando, Florida, and sought coverage for two negligence lawsuits filed against it for allegedly failing to prevent a shooting and another violent incident on its premises.