In a March 6, 2019 article appearing in Law360, Hunton insurance team partner, Syed Ahmad, commented on the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s recent reinforcement of a general liability insurer’s broad duty to defend in West Bend Mut. Ins. Co. v. Ixthus Med. Supply, Inc. In the article, Ahmad noted that “the ruling puts some real teeth into the broad duty to defend standard.” A deeper analysis of the decision is discussed in our March 8, 2019 blog post, in which we analyze the court’s reasoning behind its refusal to allow the insurer to escape its duty to defend by relying on the knowing violation and criminal acts
In a March 13, 2019 article appearing in Law360, Hunton Insurance team head, Walter Andrews, explains the adverse impact of a Georgia Supreme Court ruling that attempts to clarify the rules governing settlement of insured liability claims under Georgia law. As Walter explains, however, the decision stands to hinder settlements and potentially subject innocent insureds to staggering liability beyond that covered by their insurance. In First Acceptance Ins. Co. of Georgia, Inc. v. Hughes, the Georgia Supreme Court ruled that policyholders must make a “valid offer” – that is, one that contains definite time limits and other terms – before an insurance company is required to settle. As Walter told Law360, the court took “an overly narrow approach” that is “disturbing and is likely to act as a deterrent to settlements in the future.” He goes on to explain that insurance companies will actually have less incentive to settle, “which means that fewer cases will settle and cases will linger longer in court, which is not in the interests of either the injured parties or the insured defendants.”
The Georgia Supreme Court ruled this week that First Acceptance Insurance Co. need not pay a $5.3 million excess judgment against its insured, Ronald Jackson. First Acceptance Ins. Co. of Georgia, Inc. v. Hughes, No. S18G0517, 2019 WL 1103831 (Ga. Mar. 11, 2019), even though Jackson’s insurer could have settled the claim for Jackson’s $50,000 policy limits.
Insurance partner Michael Levine is teaming up with Hunton’s Michael Perry and Adam Solomon and Jones Day’s Lisa Ropple to discuss cybersecurity litigation and insurance coverage presentation for the Massachusetts Bar Association. The presentation, sponsored by the MBA’s Complex Commercial Litigation Section, will take place on Wednesday, March 20th at 4:30 pm at the MBA’s office in Boston. Topics will include:
- General litigation claims arising from cybersecurity incidents and defenses available to companies facing these claims.
- Safeguards to prevent cyberattacks from outside sources.
- Insurance coverage issues arising out of cybersecurity incidents.
Hunton insurance associate Andrea DeField will be speaking on a plenary panel titled “Transferring the Risk: A Professional’s Checklist for Procurement of the Cyber Liability Policy” at the University of South Carolina School of Law’s 2019 Cybersecurity Legal Institute. The event will take place on April 4th in Columbia, South Carolina. Additional information about this event can be found here.
In an Expert Analysis recently published in Law360, Hunton insurance recovery attorneys Sergio Oehninger and Latosha Ellis discuss the many ways that event cancellation insurance can help mitigate loss caused by government shutdowns and other disruptive events. A copy of the Expert Analysis can be found here.
The Wisconsin Supreme Court held last week in West Bend Mut. Ins. Co. v. Ixthus Med. Supply, Inc., that West Bend Mutual Insurance Co. (“West Bend”) could not escape its duty to defend by relying on the knowing violation and criminal acts exclusions in a commercial general liability policy issued to Ixthus Medical Supply, Inc. (“Ixthus”). The court required the insurer to defend notwithstanding underlying allegations that Ixthus acted wrongfully and knowingly in defrauding Abbott Laboratories (“Abbott”).
In an article appearing in CyberInsecurity News, Hunton insurance recovery partner, Michael Levine, comments on Zurich American Insurance Company’s attempt to invoke a so-called “war exclusion” as a basis for not paying business income losses suffered by snack food giant Mondelez International. As Levine expains, so-called “war exclusions” have rarely been invoked and only then, in times of clear military or state-sponsored activity. The Mondelez case will therefore focus on whether a computer attack was indeed an act of war and, importantly, whether and how Zurich American has applied its war exclusion in other cases. Mondelez was one of many victims of the NotPetya ransomware attack in 2017. As Levine explains in the article, among other things, Mondelez “certainly will want to see, want to know how many other claims [Zurich] had involving NotPetya. How many other war exclusions did it use?”
In January we wrote about Rosen Millennium Inc.’s (“Millennium”) appeal to the Eleventh Circuit, whereby Millennium took the position that a Florida federal court ignored well established Florida insurance law when it ruled that St. Paul Fire & Marine Insurance Co. had no duty to defend it against a multimillion dollar claim arising out of a 2016 cybersecurity breach.
In an article appearing in Electric Light & Power, Hunton insurance recovery lawyers, Lawrence Bracken, Sergio Oehninger and Alexander Russo discuss the insurability of losses resulting from the recent wildfires in California. Many affected by the tragedy have tried to shift responsibility to utility and power companies, which also may face subrogation claims from insurers that paid property and business owners for first-party losses. In addition, liability insurance programs may help defray costs imposed upon those believed to be at fault, including costs resulting from shareholder and investor suits, regulatory and governmental investigations, fines and penalties, and future legal settlements.