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Gail Stargardter Prevails on Appeal of “No Occurrence” Insurance Coverage Case

The Ninth Circuit affirmed Ms. Stargardter’s successful summary judgment on behalf of Atain Specialty Insurance Company. Atain’s insured was hired by a property owner to remove trees. The insured reasonably believed that the trees belonged to the property owner, but it turned out they belonged to a neighbor, who sued the insured. Atain’s policy provided coverage only for claims for property damage caused by an “occurrence”, defined as an “accident.” The court agreed with Atain that it had no duty to defend, holding that there was no potential for coverage because an insured’s subjective belief – no matter how reasonable – did not transform the intentional act of removing trees into accidental conduct for purposes of liability insurance.

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