The Second Department, reversing (modifying) Supreme Court, determined the plaintiffs’ causes of action for declaratory relief and negligent procurement were properly dismissed but the causes of action for breach of contract and fraud and negligent misrepresentation should not have been dismissed. Plaintiffs contracted with Con Ed to work on a gas main and requested insurance coverage for the project from defendants. Well into the project plaintiffs learned that they were not insured and they procured coverage elsewhere for a much higher premium. The declaratory judgment cause of action sought a declaration that defendants would be responsible if plaintiffs are sued for damage done when plaintiffs were uninsured. Because that circumstance may never occur the declaratory judgment cause of action was properly dismissed. The negligent procurement cause of action was properly dismissed because there were no damages. The breach of contract cause of action should not have been dismissed because nominal damages will support it. The fraud and negligent misrepresentation causes of action should not have been dismissed because a special relationship between plaintiffs and the insurance broker had been sufficiently alleged:
” … Nominal damages allow vindication of those rights” … . … “[A]ctual damages are not an essential element” of a breach of contract cause of action … .
… “Where a special relationship develops between the broker and client, [the] broker may be liable . . . for failing to advise or direct the client to obtain additional coverage” … . “… [T]hree ‘exceptional situations’ … may give rise to such a special relationship: ‘(1) the agent receives compensation for consultation apart from payment of the premiums; (2) there was some interaction regarding a question of coverage, with the insured relying on the expertise of the agent; or (3) there is a course of dealing over an extended period of time which would have put objectively reasonable insurance agents on notice that their advice was being sought and specially relied on'” … . … The plaintiffs, at a minimum, claim to have suffered damages when they, on two occasions, made bids for long-term contracts to perform gas main repair work for Con Ed that were priced, in part, based on the defendants’ alleged misrepresentations as to the price of insurance coverage for that work. AB Oil Servs., Ltd. v TCE Ins. Servs., Inc., 2020 NY Slip Op 06232, Second Dept 11-4-20