Suppose you formed a new company with Joe, whereby Joe would operate a business in a property leased to Joe. Suppose that your company became dissatisfied with Joe’s performance, ejected him and took over management of the business. Suppose Joe then sued for wrongful termination of his employment, infliction of emotional distress, interference with business and other claims.

If your company had a Commercial General Liability (“CGL”) policy, as many businesses do, courts in California may well hold that the insurance company must pay for part or all of your defense. This is because CGL policies typically have coverage concerning claims of “wrongful entry or eviction” from a property occupied by the plaintiff. A California Court of Appeal recently held that Joe’s claim that he was “callously ejected” from the business raised a potential for coverage under CGL insurance policies owned by the company, and forced the insurers to pay for the company’s defense.

The lesson of this and other cases is that insurance benefits are often owed to policyholders for many different types of claims. Just because a claim is not for “slip and fall” injuries or an auto accident, policyholders should not assume that insurance benefits are not available. You paid your premiums and you should get the benefit of the coverage you bought.

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