Last month we wrote a piece concerning AXA’s agreement to pay COVID-19 related business interruption claims by a group of restaurants in France after a court ruled that the restaurants’ revenue losses resulting from COVID-19 and related government orders were covered under its insurance policies. AXA reportedly has already agreed to pay over 200 COVID-19 related claims.
The Ohio Court of Appeals on June 24 enforced liability insurance for a company that had distributed opiates, finding that the insured had a duty to defend the insured in lawsuits filed by government agencies and pending in the Opioid Multidistrict Litigation. Acuity v. Masters Pharm., No. C-190176 (Ohio Ct. App. June 24, 2020). A unanimous three-judge panel overturned a trial court decision that had accepted arguments of insurers that, because the underlying suits were brought by government entities seeking to recover for “their own economic loss,” the damages sought did not qualify as “damages because of or for a ‘bodily injury.’” Relying on the Seventh Circuit’s decision in Cincinnati Ins. Co. v. H.D. Smith, L.L.C., 829 F.3d 771 (7th Cir. 2016), the Court of Appeals acknowledged that “[t]he governmental entities are seeking their own economic losses,” but concluded that some losses at issue “(such as medical expenses and treatment costs) are arguably ‘because of’ bodily injury,” bringing policyholder claims “potentially within the policies’ coverage.” Slip op. ¶ 30. The trial court thus had erred in finding that the insurer had no duty to defend in the underlying opioid cases.
The unprecedented impact of COVID-19 on the American economy has forced many businesses of all sizes and in all industries to seek some form of financial relief. Perhaps the most prominent source is the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (commonly known as the CARES Act), which provides more than $2 trillion in assistance through the largest economic stimulus package passed by Congress in U.S. history. In a recent article published by ABA Business Law Section’s Business Law Today, Hunton Andrews Kurth insurance attorneys Syed S. Ahmad and Cary D. Steklof discuss whether or not insurance companies are entitled to an offset for any relief that a business receives from the CARES Act. The full article is available here.
A group of Las Vegas-based restaurants recently filed a class action lawsuit to recover business interruption damages against their insurer. The Egg Works chain alleged that U.S. Specialty wrongly denied their claims for financial losses stemming from the Nevada governor’s closure of non-essential businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. The governor’s orders limited the restaurants to takeout and delivery service only.
Following the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, and Rayshard Brooks, protests against systematic racism in general, and police brutality in particular, have swept the globe. These protests have largely been peaceful, but a small, fractious group of individuals has used the protests as cover to incite violence, damage property, and loot businesses. While it might be cold comfort to the affected business owners to hear that property damage is not the norm, most have insurance that protects their pecuniary interest.
On May 26, 2020, a California Court of Appeals (4th District) issued its decision in Mosley et al. v. Pacific Specialty Ins. Co. The case arose in the context of a marijuana-growing tenant who rerouted a home’s electrical system and caused an electrical fire. The issue was whether the homeowner’s policy covered the loss. The trial court granted the insurer’s motion for summary judgment and, in a divided decision, the Court of Appeals reversed in part.
Navigating discovery in coverage and bad faith suits can often feel daunting to young associates. This is especially true given that the discoverability of common insurance materials, such as claim files, underwriting files, and reserve information, often varies by jurisdiction. Hunton Andrews Kurth attorneys Andrea DeField and Adriana Perez authored an article, published in the American Bar Association Insurance Coverage Journal, discussing some of the most common discovery issues that arise in insurance coverage and bad faith actions. The full article is available here.
A North Carolina court recently ruled in favor of all sums allocation. Duke Energy Carolinas, LLC v. AG Insurance SA/NV, No. 17 CVS 5594 (N.C. Sup. Ct.). In that case, Duke Energy is seeking coverage for “liabilities linked to coal combustion residuals (‘CCRs’), i.e., coal ash, at fifteen Duke-owned power plants in North and South Carolina.” In a recent summary judgment decision, the court resolved a dispute between Duke and TIG Insurance Company, as successor to Ranger Insurance Company, about whether all sums allocation or pro rata allocation applied.
Geoffrey Fehling, an associate in Hunton Andrew Kurth’s Insurance Coverage practice, has been appointed to serve as Vice Chair of the Insurance Subcommittee of the American Bar Association’s Business Law Section Director and Officer Liability Committee. The Committee on Director and Officer Liability is part of the ABA Business Law Section’s global network of almost 40,000 business law professionals interested in expanding their knowledge, engaging with their professional communities, and advancing their experience through Section committees, programs, and meetings.
AXA, one of the biggest insurance companies in the world, has agreed to pay COVID-related business interruption claims by a group of restaurants in Paris after a court ruled that the restaurants’ revenue losses resulting from COVID-19 and related government orders were covered under AXA’s policies.