Indemnity, not insurance.

Deep Marine Technology provided construction support vessels to BHP, an offshore drilling company.  A BHP contractor sued for injuries arising from an “offshore personnel basket transfer” between a Deep Marine vessel and a BHP platform.  There was no dispute that the parties’ Master Services Agreement required BHP to defend and indemnify Deep Marine from this claim.  The issue in Duval v. Northern Assurance Co. was whether BHP had to defend and indemnify Deep Marine’s insurers, who were joined to the litigation under Louisiana’s Direct Action Statute.  No. 12-31102 (July 5, 2013).  The Fifth Circuit noted that indemnity provisions are strictly construed and that: “The parties could have included the Contractor’s insurers within the definition of ‘Contractor Group,’ as parties in other cases have done . . . . ” (citation omitted).  Based on that conclusion, the Court rejected several theories about how the insurers could benefit from the indemnity provision, and affirmed summary judgment against them.

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