The Court of Appeals of Georgia recently found an excess insurer liable for environmental costs related to a leak in an insured’s pipeline. In doing so, the court rejected the insurer’s argument that liability for the costs should be spread among policies issued by other insurers spanning nearly three decades. The opinion is available here.
On September 22, 2016, the Oregon Supreme Court rejected an insurer’s attempt to separately relitigate issues of liability previously decided in an underlying lawsuit. The decision in Fountaincourt Homeowners’ Ass’n v. Fountain Dev., LLC, 360 Or. 341 (2016), reaffirms the settled liability paradigm that “an insurer cannot, in a subsequent proceeding, retry its insured’s liability, or alter the nature of the damages awarded in that proceeding.” Id.
The Delaware Supreme Court ruled on Monday in a long-running dispute involving Viking Pump’s and Warren Pumps’ claims for recovery under primary, umbrella, and excess insurance. The Delaware high court had certified two questions to the New York Court of Appeals. The Delaware decision follows the New York high court’s ruling in May that the policies required “all sums” allocation and “vertical” exhaustion” (click here and here for prior posts).
Congratulations, your cracker-jack defense team just won the underlying case. They also just lost your insurance coverage and you now must repay millions of dollars of defense costs. Seem odd? Not according to the Second Circuit in Petroterminal de Panama, S.A. v. Houston Cas. Co., No. 15-2941-cv (2d Cir., Sept. 8, 2016).
Earlier today, FC&S Legal published an article by Hunton & Williams insurance lawyers Mike Levine and Matt McLellan, discussing the Seventh Circuit’s recent decision in Cincinnati Ins. Co. v. H.D. Smith, LLC , in which the court held that a general liability insurer must defend a West Virginia pharmaceutical distributor in litigation brought by the State of West Virginia alleging it had contributed to an epidemic of prescription drug abuse. The decision is significant for policyholders in West Virginia and elsewhere because it illustrates that the general liability policy’s defense coverage is not to be read narrowly; rather, the causal connection between the damages alleged and any “bodily injury” to which they relate can be quite attenuated and still be sufficient to trigger a defense.
A federal judge in Georgia held last week that a Commercial Crime Policy must cover a $1.7 million wire-transfer of funds precipitated by a fraudulent e-mail, purportedly authored by one of the insured’s managing directors. The decision marks yet another attempt by insurers to improperly narrow the scope of coverage afforded for cyber and technology-related losses.
In Cypress Point Condo. Ass’n, Inc. v. Adria Towers, L.L.C., 076348, 2016 WL 4131662, at *8 (N.J. Aug. 4, 2016), a condominium association sued its general contractor for rainwater damage to the condominium complex, after the project was completed, which was allegedly the result of defective work performed by subcontractors. The condominium association also sued the developer’s CGL insurers, seeking a declaration that claims against the developer were covered by the policies. The trial court granted summary judgment to the insurers, finding that there was no “property damage” or “occurrence,” as defined and required by the policies, to trigger coverage. The condominium association appealed, and the Appellate Division reversed, concluding that “consequential damages caused by the subcontractors’ defective work constitute[d] ‘property damage’ and an ‘occurrence’ under the polic[ies].”
In a case filed in California last week, an insurer once again has taken the position that funds disbursed to computer hackers because of fraudulent commands received via e-mail from hackers are somehow distinguishable from the hacker misappropriating the funds directly. They are not. The typical scheme, via social engineering commonly known as “business e-mail compromise” or “CEO fraud,” involves an e-mail from a high-level executive’s e-mail account directing a subordinate employee to wire funds to a bank account actually owned by a third-party scammer, the true author of the email. Insurers have denied coverage for such liabilities, contending that their policies do not cover voluntary disbursements of company funds – as if the insureds intended to give their funds away to the bad guys!
On August 2nd, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals certified to the Florida Supreme Court the issue of whether the notice and repair process of Chapter 558, Florida Statutes constitutes a “suit” under widely used CGL policy language, thus triggering the insurer’s duty to defend. Altman Contractors, Inc. v. Crum & Forster Speciality Ins. Co., No. 15-12816 (11th Cir. Aug. 2, 2016).
A US District Court has ruled that a Professional Services Exclusion in a D&O policy does not bar coverage for suits alleging that a network of for-profit career colleges engaged in false marketing regarding the quality of education and job prospects that enrollees would receive. The decision in Education Affiliates Inc., et al. v. Federal Insurance Company, et al., stems from a series of lawsuits filed against the owner of the career colleges by former students and a subpoena and draft complaint served by the Florida Attorney General alleging that the colleges were deceptive in marketing their services to prospective students.