Invasion of the Right of Private Occupancy Cases In California

The typical situation for a "wrongful entry or eviction or other invasion of the right of private occupancy" to occur is a trespass onto the claimant's real property. California court's decision in General Accident Ins. Co. v. West American Ins. Co. (1996) 42 Cal. App. 4th 95 is illustrative. There, partners were alleged to have literally "ousted" and "ejected" the part owner of a small business from his physical office space. This court held that such allegations constituted an invasion of the private occupancy right. (Id. at p. 105.) Similarly, Martin Marietta Corp. v. Insurance Co. of North America (1995) 40 Cal. App. 4th 1113 [47 Cal. Rptr. 2d 670] held that a pollution cleanup claim was such an invasion because the "migration of pollutants from one property to another may constitute a trespass." (Id. at p. 1132.) In contrast, claims that do not involve the physical occupation of or trespass upon real property are not within the meaning of the phrase, even though the claim may entail interference with rights relating to such property. Tinseltown Video, Inc. v. Transportation Ins. Co. (1998) 61 Cal. App. 4th 184 [71 Cal. Rptr. 2d 371] held that a partnership dispute involving the transfer of the physical assets of a video store did not constitute an invasion of the right of private occupancy. ( Id. at pp. 196-197.) There, the partners-policyholders' trespass was against the claimant's partnership rights; there was no invasion of the partnership's real property. Similarly, in Wilmington Liquid Bulk Terminals, Inc. v. Somerset Marine Inc. (1997) 53 Cal. App. 4th 186 [61 Cal. Rptr. 2d 727], the clause afforded no coverage for the breach of a contract to build a dock for a cement shipper because the " 'invasion' " was "no more than an interference with an expectancy of future use . . . under an executory contract." (Id. at p. 196.)