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Dolan v. Auto Owners Insurance Co.

Court of Appeals of Georgia

July 8, 2015

DOLAN et al.
v.
AUTO OWNERS INSURANCE COMPANY

Reconsideration denied July 30, 2015.

Commercial general liability insurance. Chatham Superior Court. Before Judge Bass.

Southeast Law, Ashleigh R. Madison, for appellants.

R. Stephen Sims, for appellee.

ELLINGTON, Presiding Judge. Dillard and McFadden, JJ., concur.

OPINION

Page 790

Ellington, Presiding Judge.

Auto Owners Insurance Company filed this declaratory judgment action seeking a determination that certain provisions contained in its commercial general liability policy excluded coverage to its insured, Anthony Hite d/b/a Air Mechanix, L.L.C. (" Air Mechanix" ), for claims arising from Air Mechanix's alleged negligent installation of air conditioning ductwork into the home of Michael Dolan and Shana Jackson. The trial court granted summary judgment to Auto Owners. For the following reasons, we affirm in part and reverse in part.

To prevail on a motion for summary judgment, the moving party must demonstrate that there is no genuine issue of material fact, and that the undisputed facts, viewed in a light most favorable to the party opposing the motion, warrant judgment as a matter of law. OCGA § 9-11-56 (c); Lau's Corp. v. Haskins, 261 Ga. 491 (405 S.E.2d 474) (1991).

In brief sum, the pertinent facts are as follows. Dolan and Jackson filed a complaint against Air Mechanix, among others,[1] in the State Court of Chatham County, asserting claims of negligence per se, professional and simple negligence, and fraud. The complaint alleged that in March 2009, Air Mechanix replaced the duct system of the air conditioning unit in Dolan and Jackson's residence. In June 2009, Dolan and Jackson discovered mold growth on the vent covers. An independent contractor ultimately concluded that the duct system, which contained holes, gaps, loose connections, and insufficient mastic, had been defectively installed in violation of the applicable city ordinances, resulting in excessive moisture and mold contamination throughout the residence. Dolan and Jackson allege that they grew ill with respiratory problems as a result and were subsequently forced to vacate the residence and abandon their personal belongings. Their complaint seeks to recover repair costs, moving costs, expenses [333 Ga.App. 602] associated with rental property, costs of living, costs related to the replacement of personal property, medical expenses, punitive

Page 791

damages, attorney fees, and costs of litigation.

Auto Owners, as insurer of Air Mechanix, filed the instant declaratory judgment action and sought summary judgment that Dolan and Jackson's claims were excluded under the terms of its commercial general liability policy. The policy at issue has a general aggregate policy limit of $2,000,000 (for claims other than " products-completed operations" ), and an additional " products-completed operations" aggregate limit of $2,000,000.[2]

Under the general heading of " SECTION I -- COVERAGES" and as a subset of " COVERAGE A. BODILY INJURY AND PROPERTY DAMAGE LIABILITY," the policy contains a provision entitled " Exclusions." Auto Owners contends that Dolan and Jackson's property claims are defeated by ...


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