Law360 (November 4, 2021, 4:53 PM EDT) -- A roof manufacturer urged a Fifth Circuit panel Thursday to reverse a Texas federal court's decision and find its insurer must defend the manufacturer in a more than $5 million property damage lawsuit in New York, arguing that although the pleadings are vague, they allege covered actions.
Siplast Inc. told the three-judge panel during oral arguments that a district court judge read the New York complaint too narrowly when it determined in September 2020 that Employers Mutual Casualty Co. didn't have a duty to defend. There are "more than ample allegations" in the complaint of covered property damage caused by a Siplast roof that was installed by a third party, the company said.
"So where did the district court misunderstand?" U.S. Circuit Judge Stephen A. Higginson asked.
Siplast's attorney, Steven J. Pudell of Anderson Kill PC, conceded that the complaint could've been written clearer, but told Judge Higginson that wasn't in Siplast's control.
"The underlying complaint is always written by someone other than you," Pudell said. "The policyholder is at the beck and call of the complainant."
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