An insurance company is suing the City of San Diego in an effort to get out from having to pay a claim filed by a man who was injured at Ocean Beach's Robb Field after he stepped in a gopher hole while playing football in August 2013.
The company, Brit UW Limited, an offshoot of Lloyd's syndicate, was hired by Epic Pest Control, a contractor the city hired to address gopher infestation at the park. As part of the agreement, Epic was required to carry insurance in case of bodily harm. But according to the claim, filed in federal court on September 15, the insurance company claims the city interfered with the pest control company's treatment of the field.
"Brit’s investigation disclosed City interfered with the efforts of its insured, Epic, to control the population of gophers and other pests at the subject athletic field. This interference included City’s countermanding Epic’s choice of techniques and substances to employ, and City’s hiring others, including outside vendors, to do work at the subject premises."
If true, the insurance company says it is the city and not its client who is at fault.
Gophers have been an issue at Robb Field for years. In 2009, the city hired a contractor to come in and eradicate the rodents. Soon after, however, the Animal Protection and Rescue League became involved, objecting to the use of poison to kill the gophers. The city this time looked to other options to eliminate the gophers, thus the claim of "interference."
In August 2013, Andre Walker tore ligaments in his knee and injured his ankle and foot while running on the field. Not long after, he filed a complaint against the city. In the complaint, he named the city as well as employees Stacey LoMedico, Duane Skarbic, and Monica Honore. Epic Pest Control was also named as a defendant.
"[The city] knew, or should have known, of the ineffectiveness of the maintenance and eradication program to eradicate and control gophers, ground squirrels and other unknown rodents that were causing the holes, dirt mounds and uneven surfaces at Robb Field during the period of time leading up to the date of the hereinafter-described incident that caused the injuries and damages suffered by plaintiff, Andre Walker," reads the original complaint.
"This knowledge existed long enough for the City of San Diego, its employees and its outside vendors, including, but not limited to, defendant Epic Pest Control & Landscape Services, Inc. to take steps to change its maintenance and eradication program and thereby eliminate the cause of the holes, dirt mounds and other uneven surfaces so that steps could be taken to fill the holes and level the surface to a reasonable condition so that it would not be substantially hazardous to persons using Robb Field."
Brit UW Limited is requesting that the city provide and pay for its own defense because it did not allow Epic to perform the duties it was hired for.