Uneeda Rest, LLC v. Hexum (Insurance Coverage)

In Uneeda Rest, LLC v. Hexum (2019AP1357), the Court of Appeals District III held there was no initial grant of coverage because the property damage did not constitute an “occurrence” under the insurance policy at issue.

Jake Westerhof is a member of Uneeda Rest, which owns property adjacent to Rick Hexum. When Westerhof hired contractors to build a home on the Uneeda Rest property, there were various disputes between Westerhof and Hexum about the construction process and effects of the new home on both their properties. Hexum contented that the new house increased water runoff onto his property and caused related damages. On appeal, this case involved Hexum’s claims against Uneeda Rest and Westerhof for private nuisance, civil trespass, and negligence, among other things.

Westerhof and Uneeda Rest tendered the defense of Hexum’s claims to Westerhof’s homeowners insurer Wisconsin Mutual. Wisconsin Mutual contended that there was no coverage because the property damage was not caused by an “occurrence” under the policy.

The court agreed that the Wisconsin Mutual policies did not provide an initial grant of coverage for Hexum’s claims. The injury-causing events leading to Hexum’s property damages (i.e. contractors driving on Hexum’s property and the construction of Westerhof’s new home) were intentional. No negligence or accident led to the property damage. Therefore, the injury-causing events did not constitute an occurrence under the Wisconsin Mutual policy, so there was no initial grant of coverage.