TRACY CHRISTOPHER, Justice.
Appellant GEICO General Insurance Company challenges the trial court's summary judgment in favor of Austin Power on a breach of contract claim relating to an insurer's duty to defend. Because we find that the pleadings in the underlying lawsuit allege claims that potentially fall within coverage under the insurance policy, we affirm the judgment of the trial court.
I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
This case involves an insurance-coverage dispute arising from an underlying lawsuit, Bradley v. AEP Texas Central Company, Cause No. 2007-26854 in the 63rd District Court of Val Verde County, Texas. In that
Austin Power held a commercial general liability insurance policy issued by GEICO's predecessor, covering the period from December 31, 1969, to December 31, 1970. Under the policy's terms, GEICO has a duty to defend Austin Power against any claims arising out of an occurrence that results in bodily injury during the coverage period, even if the allegations are groundless, false, or fraudulent.
II. GOVERNING LAW
We review a trial court's summary judgment de novo. Valence Operating Co. v. Dorsett, 164 S.W.3d 656, 661 (Tex.2005). At trial, a movant for traditional summary judgment has the burden to show that there are no genuine issues of material fact to be entitled to judgment as a matter of law. KPMG Peat Marwick v. Harrison Cnty. Hous. Fin. Corp., 988 S.W.2d 746, 748 (Tex.1999). In determining whether there is a genuine fact issue precluding summary judgment, all evidence favorable to the nonmovant is taken as true and all reasonable inferences are made in the nonmovant's favor. Id.
When both parties move for summary judgment, each party bears the burden of establishing that it is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. City of Garland v. Dallas Morning News, 22 S.W.3d 351, 356 (Tex.2000). When the trial court grants one motion and denies the other, we review the summary judgment evidence presented by both parties and determine all questions presented. Id. The reviewing court should render the judgment that the trial court should have rendered or reverse and remand if neither party has met its summary judgment burden. Id.
An insurer has a duty to defend when a third party sues the insured on allegations that, if taken as true, potentially state a cause of action within the coverage terms of the policy. GuideOne Elite Ins. Co. v. Fielder Rd. Baptist Church, 197 S.W.3d 305, 310 (Tex.2006). Even if the allegations are groundless, false, or fraudulent, the insurer is obligated to defend. Zurich Am. Ins. Co. v. Nokia, Inc., 268 S.W.3d 487, 491 (Tex.2008). The duty to defend is independent from the duty to indemnify and can exist even when no obligation to indemnify is ultimately found. Farmers Tex. County Mut. Ins. Co. v. Griffin, 955 S.W.2d 81, 82 (Tex.1997).
We first turn to the policy language at issue here. Under the policy's terms, GEICO is required to defend Austin against any suits arising from "an accident, including injurious exposure to conditions, which results, during the policy period, in bodily injury." The policy period is defined as December 31, 1969, to December 31, 1970.
Looking at the petition in the underlying Bradley suit, there is no specific date of injury alleged. However, we find other indications of time of injury. Plaintiffs alleged that Austin Power "created hazardous and deadly conditions to which Mr. Bradley was exposed and which caused him to be exposed to a large amount of asbestos fibers." By re-incorporation, the plaintiffs alleged that Mr. Bradley was exposed to asbestos "on numerous occasions," and that "each exposure" caused or contributed to his injuries. In the conspiracy count against all defendants, we find the allegation that "for many decades, Defendants [acted] ... individually, jointly and in conspiracy with each other and other entities...." Finally, the plaintiffs alleged damages resulting from "asbestos-related lung disease."
GEICO argues that because there is no specific date of injury in the Bradley petition that it failed to allege a claim that potentially is covered under the terms of the policy. GEICO argues that nothing is alleged suggesting that Mr. Bradley was injured during the policy period. In support of its argument, GEICO attempts to distinguish the holding in Gehan Homes
As in Gehan Homes, the claimants in this case also alleged that the injury occurred before the petition was filed. Although they did not use the word "past," they used the past tense in alleging that Weldon Bradley "has suffered injuries" from asbestos exposure (emphasis added). They also alleged numerous exposures and that a conspiracy had existed for many decades. Finally, we know that it can take years of exposure to produce asbestos related diseases. See Lohrmann v. Pittsburgh Corning Corp., 782 F.2d 1156, 1162 (4th Cir.1986); Borg-Warner Corp. v. Flores, 232 S.W.3d 765, 770 (Tex.2007) In effect, the Bradleys alleged that Weldon was injured sometime before the petition was filed. Nothing in the pleadings negates the possibility that the injury occurred between December 31, 1969 and December 31, 1970. Construing the pleadings liberally and resolving any doubts in the insured's favor, we agree with the trial court that this is an allegation of a potential occurrence within the policy's coverage period. See Merchs. Fast Motor Lines, Inc., 939 S.W.2d at 141; Gehan Homes, 146 S.W.3d at 846.
GEICO further tries to distinguish Gehan Homes by arguing that the court of appeals erroneously imposed the burden of proof on the insurer to establish a lack of coverage rather than on the insured to show the actual existence of coverage. GEICO claims that an insured must first establish coverage before the burden shifts to the insurer to prove that an exclusion applies to defeat coverage. The court in Gehan Homes reviewed the granting of summary judgment for the insurer and reversed because the insurer failed to conclusively establish that the pleadings contained no allegation of a potentially covered claim. Gehan Homes, 146 S.W.3d at 846. As noted above, a movant for traditional summary judgment has the burden to show there is no genuine issue of material fact. KPMG Peat Marwick, 988 S.W.2d at 748. While GEICO's characterization of the proper burdens of proof is accurate in the context of some coverage disputes, the burden in a motion for traditional summary judgment falls on the movant. Thus, in Gehan Homes, the insurer moved for summary judgment on the duty to defend, and therefore was required to establish as a matter of law that no covered claims were alleged in the pleadings. As the movant for traditional summary judgment, GEICO bore the same burden, and like the insurer in Gehan Homes, GEICO failed to meet it.
Citing Pine Oak Builders, Inc. v. Great American Lloyds Insurance Co., 279 S.W.3d 650 (Tex.2009), GEICO also argues that a court's obligation to construe the pleadings liberally does not permit it to infer a claim that might have been, but was not, alleged. Pine Oak, however, is readily distinguishable. In that case, the
Unlike the insured in Pine Oak and in the other cases on which GEICO relies, Austin Power's coverage claim does not depend upon extrinsic evidence or on facts that are not encompassed within the factual allegations in the underlying suit.
We accordingly overrule the sole issue presented on appeal and affirm the trial court's judgment.