CLIENT SPOTLIGHT: Grillo's Pickles

If you haven't been to the Grillo's Pickles website, you should. There, you'll find the fantastic story of how this company began. We've copied part of it here to save you a click.

Grillo's Pickles began with a pickle cart, just a small wooden stand in downtown Boston, where Travis Grillo and his friends would sell two spears for one dollar. Travis would make the pickles by night using his family's 100-year old recipe - one he'd memorized from making pickles every summer as a kid. In the morning, Travis would bike to the Boston Common and set up the cart with his buddies. They'd hang out all day, urging people to try the simple Grillo family pickle. It was a small business but Travis worked hard for it. He made more pickles, biked more miles, and slept less hours than he ever had before.
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CLIENT SPOTLIGHT: Factory Five Racing

Factory Five Racing was founded in 1995. Over the years they have grown from a start-up business in a small garage to become the world's largest manufacturer of "build-it-yourself" component car kits. They employ a full-time crew of about 40 people, and are located in Wareham, Massachusetts (about an hour south of Boston). They make their products right here in the USA, in the heart of New England where American manufacturing was born.
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CLIENT SPOTLIGHT: Luca + Danni

Fred and Danny Magnanimi grew up watching their father create beautiful, handcrafted jewelry in the family's Cranston, RI jewelry manufacturing business. When the boys grew up, Fred moved to New York and began working on Wall Street as an investment banker, while younger brother Danny, still enamored by the family business, stayed home. Increased competition from overseas businesses created significant challenges for the business, but Danny was confident he could find a way for the family business to evolve and thrive. This was his mission, this was his passion.
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        R.I. Supreme Court Holds No Duty to Defend Additional Insured Outside Policy Coverage

        The Rhode Island Supreme Court this summer ruled in Bacon Construction Co., Inc. v. Arbella Protection Ins. Co., 2017-350 (R.I. June 4, 2019) that a trial court did not err in finding that a subcontractor’s liability insurer was not obliged to provide coverage to the general contractor for personal injuries suffered dby a worker at a construction project, when there was no claim that the subcontractor itself was negligent.

        Appellant Bacon Construction, Inc. (“Bacon”) had been hired as the general contractor for a construction project at the University of Rhode Island. Bacon, in turn, subcontracted certain work to U.S. Drywall. Pursuant to their contract, U.S. Drywall was required to obtain an insurance policy listing Bacon as an additional insured. U.S. Drywall did so, obtaining a policy from Arbella Protection Insurance Company (“Arbella”), and naming Bacon as an additional insured under that policy. During site work, a U.S. Drywall employee was severely injured. The employee brought suit against Bacon, alleging that Bacon’s negligence was the proximate cause of his injuries. Bacon initially filed a third-party complaint against U.S. Drywall, claiming that their contract required U.S. Drywall to defend and indemnify them.

        However, Bacon subsequently dismissed its suit with prejudice, and sought instead to recover indemnification through its “additional insured” status on the Arbella policy. It did so by filing a declaratory judgment action, seeking a Superior Court ruling that Arbella was contractually obligated to defend and indemnity Bacon, due to Bacon’s additional insured status. Arbella argued, conversely, that it had no such duty, because the allegations in the underlying injury suit fell outside the scope of the policy’s coverage – which was limited to negligence in U.S. Drywall’s acts or omissions. There were no allegations in the underlying injury suit that U.S. Drywall had been negligent in any way. At the Superior Court, Arbella prevailed, prompting an appeal to the Rhode Island Supreme Court.

        The Rhode Island Supreme Court held that the additional insured endorsement to the policy limited coverage to those situations where liability was attributable, at least in part, to the negligence of the named insured, whereas the allegations in the underlying complaint did not suggest that these injuries were due to any negligence on the part of U.S. Drywall. In so holding, the Court rejected Bacon’s argument that the endorsement language that Bacon “is an additional insured only with respect to liability for … injury caused in whole or in part by (1) Your acts or omissions; or (2) the acts or omission of those acting on your behalf” (emphasis in original) applies to claims arising from Bacon’s own alleged negligence.

        “You” and “Your” in the policy, the Court found, referred to the named insured, U.S. Drywall, only. The endorsement, then, is more accurately read as Bacon “is an additional insured only with respect to liability for … injury caused in whole or in part by (1) [U.S. Drywall’s] acts or omissions; or (2) the acts or omission of those acting on [U.S.Drywall’s] behalf” .

        In the Court’s view, the mere fact that the employee was injured while working for the named insured did not meet the causation requirement of the additional insured endorsement, and the plain language of the endorsement acted as a limitation on the policy’s scope. The Court also found that Bacon’s dismissal of the action against U.S. Drywall was “fatal because these actions extinguished any vicarious-liability claims that Bacon could have raised.”

        The lesson: pay close attention to the specific language regarding the scope of coverage before relying on the coverage. The courts certainly will.

        A version of this article was published in The Anchor Fall 2019.
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