The Supreme Court of Virginia’s decision yesterday finding no coverage for fire damage to a building is a cautionary tale for companies acquiring other companies. Erie Ins. Exch. v. EPC MD 15, LLC, 2019 WL 238168 (Va. Jan. 17, 2019). In that case, Erie Insurance issued a property insurance policy to EPC. The policy covered EPC only and did not cover any subsidiaries of EPC. EPC then acquired the sole member interest in Cyrus Square, LLC. Following the acquisition, fire damaged a building that Cyrus Square owned. Continue Reading Don’t Assume Your Insurance Covers A Newly Acquired Company
In Zurich American Insurance Co. v. Don Buchwald & Associates, Inc., 2018 N.Y. Slip. Op. 33325(U) (Sup. Ct. N.Y. County, Dec. 21, 2017), the Supreme Court of New York held that Zurich was obligated to defend a talent and literary agency against claims brought by Hulk Hogan alleging that the agency aided and abetted one of its agents—Tony Burton—in publishing racist and sexual footage of Hulk Hogan online. The decision also gives ammunition to policyholders seeking to recover their fees incurred while litigating against an insurer’s improper denial of coverage. The court found that the insureds had “been cast in a defensive posture” due to the insurer’s claims seeking a declaratory judgment, and that this justified a fee-shifting award.
Policyholders facing any type of products liability scored a win in a recent decision from the District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. The court found that an insurance company must defend its insured against claims arising out of a recall while simultaneously funding the insured’s affirmative claims for recovery.
2018 was a big year for insurance coverage cases, especially those involving social engineering phishing, spoofing and other schemes of trickery and deception.
The insurance recovery lawyers at Hunton Andrews Kurth have compiled their list of the top insurance cases of 2018. A copy of the Review can be found here.
Hunton Andrews Kurth insurance partner Michael Levine was recently interviewed by LegalTech News concerning Ohio’s recent adoption of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners’ (NAIC) Insurance Data Security Model Law. The law, modeled after the New York State Department of Financial Services Cybersecurity Requirements for Financial Service Companies Act, seeks to provide a framework for states to address risks and develop cybersecurity guidelines for insurance companies. Ohio became the second state, after South Carolina, to adopt the model law. As Mike explained in the article, the statute provides policyholders with an added layer of protection against disclosure of sensitive and confidential information that may be held by insurers operating in the state.
A link to the article featuring Mike’s comments can be found here.
In the December 2018 edition of Virginia Lawyer Magazine, Hunton Andrews Kurth insurance coverage lawyers Syed S. Ahmad, Patrick M. McDermott, and Latosha M. Ellis discuss the importance of preserving improperly excluded evidence into the trial record for post-trial motions or appellate review. In the article, the authors explain how to make an offer of proof, the value of issue preservation during the motions stage of litigation, and the significance of motions in limine. The full article is here.
As the new year gets under way, cases that will shape the insurance landscape in 2019 continue to proceed. Among them are First Acceptance Ins. Co. v. Hughes, in which the Georgia Supreme Court will address the prerequisites for a policyholder to sue its insurance carrier for bad faith based on the insurer’s failure to settle the underlying dispute for an amount within the available policy limits. Hunton Andrews Kurth’s insurance practice head, Walter Andrews, was asked by Insurance Law360 to comment on the significance of that case. As Andrews explained, the insurer’s position is inconsistent with Georgia law. “Georgia law does not require some particular form of settlement offer — or even an offer at all — to create an insurer’s duty to settle claims against their insureds.” Rather, as Andrews explained, “that duty arises when the insurer knows or reasonably should know that not settling will create an ‘unreasonable risk’ of the insured suffering a judgment in excess of his or her policy limits, regardless of whether a third-party claimant has first presented a settlement offer. Most often, that should be a jury question and not something that is susceptible to summary judgment.”
Continue Reading Hunton Insurance Head Comments on Insurance Cases to Watch in 2019
New cybersecurity rules for insurance companies licensed in South Carolina are set to take effect in part on January 1, 2019. The new law is the first in the United States to be enacted based on the data security model law drafted by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. The law requires licensed insurance companies to notify state insurance authorities of data breaches within 72 hours of confirming that nonpublic information in the company’s (or a service provider’s) system was “disrupted, misused, or accessed without authorization.” The breach reporting requirement is in addition to notification obligations imposed under South Carolina’s breach notification law and applies if the insurance company has a permanent location in the state or if the breach affects at least 250 South Carolina residents, among other criteria. The 72-hour notice requirement takes effect January 1, 2019. Continue Reading Cybersecurity Rules for Insurance Companies to Take Effect in South Carolina
The Second Circuit has ruled a claim alleging an “offer for sale” infringed on a patent constitutes an advertising injury sufficient to trigger a defense under commercial general liability insurance. In High Point Design LLC v LM Insurance Corporation, the plaintiff High Point brought a declaratory-judgment action against Buyer’s Direct, Inc. after the latter directed High Point to cease-and-desist in the sale of its Fuzzy Babba slippers. Buyer’s Direct responded with a counterclaim alleging trade dress infringement, claiming that High Point’s offers for sale in retail catalogs infringed on Buyer’s Direct’s own slipper trade dress. Buyer’s Direct sought discovery of all advertising, marketing and promotional materials related to High Point’s fuzzy footwear to substantiate its claims.
The United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida recently granted summary judgment in favor of developer, KB Homes, ruling that Southern Owners Insurance Co. must defend KB Homes under various Commercial General Liability policies.