METCO sues insurer for failing to defend it in DuPont litigation

Kelly Holleran Nov. 8, 2010, 5:39am

After DuPont sued a Houston company, the company turned around and sued its insurance company for failing to provide it with defense lawyers.

Materials Evaluation and Technology Corp. claims defendant Mid-Continent Casualty Co. promised to pay any costs associated with bodily or property damages incurred by METCO.

However, the company refuses to defend METCO in a lawsuit DuPont filed against the company after two former METCO employees filed a personal injury lawsuit against DuPont.

In their complaint, the employees claimed they sustained injuries while performing testing services for METCO at DuPont in 2005, according to METCO's complaint filed Oct. 29 in Jefferson County District Court.

In the end, DuPont settled the suit for about $300,000, METCO's suit states.

In turn, DuPont filed a suit against METCO, alleging that the company breached its agreement with DuPont by failing to provide defense to DuPont, the complaint says.

"DuPont is seeking to recover the approximately $300,000 it paid to settle the personal injury suit and $419,567.28 in attorney's fees," the suit states.

Since then, METCO claims it has attempted to submit a claim to Mid-Continent for indemnity and defense against the DuPont suit, but Mid-Continent has rejected its claim.

"It is indisputable that the DuPont lawsuit seeks 'damages because of 'bodily injury,'" the suit states. "The injuries DuPont seeks reimbursement for are injuries sustained by METCO employees during and in the course of their employment with METCO, and during a period of time in which METCO was covered by its policy with Mid-Continent."

Because of Mid-Continent's refusal of METCO's claims, it has been forced to shoulder defense costs in DuPont's lawsuit against it, according to the complaint.

In its complaint, METCO wants the court to declare that Mid-Continent is required to defend METCO against any suit filed by DuPont seeking reimbursement for money it paid to METCO employees.

The company also seeks actual, punitive and exemplary damages, pre- and post-judgment interest, attorneys' fees and other relief the court deems just.

Amir Alavi and Steven J. Mitby of Ahmad, Zavitsanos and Anaipakos in Houston and John Werner of Reaud, Morgan and Quinn in Beaumont will be representing it.

The case has been assigned to Judge Bob Wortham, 58th District Court.

Jefferson County District Court case number: A188-712

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