One of the threshold issues in COVID-19 insurance coverage cases that have been brought across the country is whether the policyholder’s allegations meet the applicable pleading standard in alleging that the virus caused physical loss or damage. In many cases, the courts have gotten it wrong, effectively holding policyholders to a higher standard than required. But recently, a California federal judge righted those wrongs by acknowledging the correct pleading standard in that case, which is whether the allegations state a plausible claim for relief. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 679 (2009). The Court, here, correctly recognized that the policyholder, the Los Angeles Lakers, met that pleading standard when it alleged that the COVID-19 virus can cause physical loss or damage by physically altering property.

Continue Reading California Court Forces Insurer to Play Ball in COVID-19 Insurance Coverage Suit

On November 3, 2022, US News announced its annual law firm rankings, where Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP garnered the highest (Tier 1) ranking among national insurance law practices. Hunton’s insurance team also received Tier 1 honors for “Insurance Law” in three regions (Washington, DC, Atlanta and San Francisco) and Tier 2 honors for “Litigation – Insurance” in Washington, DC. US News ranks law firms in tiers from 1 (highest) to 3 (lowest) based on quantitative data that speaks to general demographic and background information on the practice group, attorneys and other data that speaks to the strengths of a law firm’s practice, as well as qualitative client feedback about:

  1. the practice group’s expertise,
  2. responsiveness,
  3. understanding of a business and its needs,
  4. cost-effectiveness,
  5. civility, and
  6. whether the client would refer another client to the firm.

“We are grateful for US News’ continued recognition of our insurance attorneys’ hard work and successes, which are owing to our entire team across all of our offices,” noted insurance partner Mike Levine. “I couldn’t be prouder of our team,” added Practice Head Syed Ahmad. “This and the other accolades that we continue to receive demonstrates our team’s national recognition as a top-tier insurance recovery practice.” Congratulations to the Hunton insurance team!

While Harvard prepares to defend its admissions policies to the Supreme Court, one of its insurers continues to argue that a technicality prevents Harvard from recovering $15 million to defray its defense costs under its insurance policies.

Last month, we discussed an insurance coverage dispute between Harvard College and Zurich American Insurance Company. The dispute arises from Zurich’s refusal to cover a 2014 lawsuit that an affirmative-action group filed against Harvard, alleging that the university’s admissions policies violated Title VI of the Civil Rights Act. Since the affirmative action suit was filed, Harvard has been defending its admissions policies through the trial and appellate court systems, an effort that has cost the university more than $25 million.

Continue Reading Harvard Learns Lesson About Timely Notice

A New York federal court recently held that an insurance company was entitled to recoup legal fees paid under a directors and officers liability policy in defense of a criminal action against an ex-CEO who was convicted of bribery. On a motion for reconsideration, the court affirmed its earlier ruling that the CEO’s conduct fell within the policy’s “Dishonest and Willful Acts Exclusion,” reasoning that the criminal case had been finally adjudicated despite a pending appeal. Because there was no coverage, the insurer could seek repayment of all defense costs it had paid to date. Not only is the court’s recoupment decision potentially inconsistent with New York law, but it also raises thorny questions regarding just when a judgment is “final” for the purpose of triggering D&O policy exclusions.

Continue Reading New York Court Holds Insurer Can Recoup Defense Costs, Appealable Conviction of Former Bank CEO Is “Final” Adjudication of D&O Claim

As we have discussed in prior parts of this series, the insurance industry has developed an array of policies specifically tailored to cover cryptocurrency claims, and some of these policies may also cover certain NFT claims. Separate and apart from these tailored policies, policyholders with NFT claims also may look to traditional forms of insurance. 

NFTs are collectible and one of a kind, yet digital. The most common NFT is a type of visual art image like a digital painting, a photograph or generative designs (created by artificial intelligence). However, this high-level definition doesn’t do justice to just how pervasive these have become. In addition to traditional artwork, there are:

Continue Reading Digital Asset Insurance Coverage Series, Part 7: Insurance for NFTs

A federal court recently found that a policyholder adequately plead that a loss of hundreds of thousands of dollars through wire fraud is covered under a commercial crime policy. In Landings, Yacht, Golf, and Tennis Club v. Travelers Casualty and Surety Company of America Case No. 2:22-cv-00459, Landings Yacht, Golf, and Tennis Club (“Landings”) sued Travelers Casualty and Surety Company of America (“Travelers”) under a crime policy for denying coverage for: (1) about $6,885.79 in unauthorized withdrawals (“First Withdrawal”) from users purporting to be Landings and (2) $575,723.95 in withdrawals made by a third-party purporting to act on behalf of Landings (“Second Withdrawal”).[1]

Continue Reading Covered Members Only: Federal Court Accepts Yacht Club’s Wire Fraud Allegations

Several of the largest brokers have developed a considerable bench. For example, Marsh has a Digital Asset Risk Team (DART);[1] Lockton has its Lockton Emerging Asset Protection Team (LEAP)[2] and Aon and others have their own teams.[3]

There are multiple advantages to procuring cryptocurrency insurance through brokers that have deep experience in this particular area of insurance. These may include:

Continue Reading Digital Asset Insurance Coverage Series, Part 6: Brokers And Cryptocurrency Insurance

Last week, Kim Kardashian settled with the SEC after the SEC announced charges against the social-media and reality TV star for promoting a crypto-currency token called EthereumMax, on her Instagram account, where she boasts more than 330 million followers, without disclosing that she received payment for the promotion. Kardashian agreed to pay $1.26 million in penalties, including the $250,000 EthereumMax paid her for promoting its crypto-tokens to potential investors. SEC Chair Gary Gensler stated that Kardashian’s case is “a reminder to celebrities and others that the law requires them to disclose to the public when and how much they are paid to promote investing in securities.”

Continue Reading Kardashian Coverage Conundrums

Last week’s discussion focused on the evolution of the insurance marketplace for digital assets. This section focuses on the marketplace as it now exists, providing examples of products being bought by companies and consumers facing cryptocurrency risks. 

Continue Reading Digital Asset Insurance Coverage Series, Part 5: How Companies And Consumers With Cryptocurrency Risk Approach Insurance

The Hunton insurance recovery team recently offered support in a matter of great importance to Maryland policyholders. The case is pending before the Maryland Court of Appeals on a question certified from a Maryland federal court in a COVID-19 business interruption insurance lawsuit brought by clothing manufacturer, Tapestry, Inc. Tapestry, the parent of luxury brands Coach, Kate Spade New York, and Stuart Weitzman, is suing its all-risk insurer, Factory Mutual, seeking recovery of millions of dollars lost due to the physical impact of COVID-19 on Tapestry’s retail stores and the resulting loss of business income during the pandemic. Hunton, whose insurance recovery team is also litigating multiple similar cases against the same insurer, offered its insights in an amicus brief filed on behalf of Hunton’s client, Cinemark USA, the world’s third-largest movie theater chain.  A copy of the amicus brief can be downloaded here.

The case is Tapestry, Inc. v. Factory Mutual Insurance Co., Misc. No. 1 (Md. Ct. App.).