Hunton Insurance partners Syed Ahmad and Michael Levine were interviewed by Law360 for its year-end article discussing the top insurance rulings in 2019, for their insights on two of the year’s biggest insurance decisions.
In Ferguson v. St. Paul Fire and Marine Insurance Co., the Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District, found that a public entity liability policy covered the injuries sustained by a man that had been wrongfully convicted, notwithstanding that the policy was issued years after the relevant prosecution. The court’s ruling is in stark contrast to the Illinois Supreme Court’s recent decision in Sanders v. Illinois Union Insurance Co., No. 124565, 2019 WL6199651 (Ill. Nov. 21, 2019), the subject of a prior blog, where the court found that it was the policies in place at the time of the wrongful prosecution that provided coverage for the offense. In our earlier blog, we discussed the costly consequences the Sanders decision could impose on policyholders in Illinois. Although reaching an opposite conclusion than Sanders, Ferguson is based on different policy language and, ultimately, does not appear to be inconsistent with the Sanders decision. While certainly a welcomed decision from a policyholder’s perspective, Ferguson and Sanders highlight the importance that policy wording can play in defining the scope of an insurance program and how similar factual scenarios can result in drastically different coverages based on seemingly minor differences in policy wording. A copy of the Ferguson decision can be found here.
The Illinois Supreme Court’s recent decision in Sanders v. Illinois Union Insurance Co., 2019 IL 124565 (2019), announced the standard for triggering general liability coverage for malicious prosecution claims under Illinois law. In its decision, the court construed what appears to be a policy ambiguity against the policyholder in spite of the longstanding rule of contra proferentem, limiting coverage to policies in place at the time of the wrongful prosecution, and not the policies in effect when the final element of the tort of malicious prosecution occurred (i.e. the exoneration of the plaintiff). The net result of the court’s ruling for policyholders susceptible to such claims is that coverage for jury verdicts for malicious prosecution – awarded in today’s dollars – is limited to the coverage procured at the time of the wrongful prosecution, which may (as in this case) be decades old. Such a scenario can have costly consequences for policyholders given that the limits procured decades ago are often inadequate due to the ever-increasing awards by juries as well as inflation. Moreover, it may be difficult to locate the legacy policies and the insurers that issued such policies may no longer be solvent or even exist. A copy of the decision can be found here.
In an article appearing in Law360 on August 8, 2019, Hunton insurance partner, Syed Ahmad, provided insight into three recent significant D&O insurance decisions.
May 25, 2018 should be a day circled on many company calendars. On that day, the European Union’s long-awaited Global Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”) will go into effect. It is crucial for U.S. companies to prepare for the GDPR, as they, too, will be required to comply with a new set of data privacy rules if they are handling data from EU-based customers, suppliers, or affiliates. As long as you collect personal or behavioral data from someone in the EU, you must comply with the GDPR.
Since our first report last year, Lemonade Insurance, a tech start-up that planned to offer peer-to-peer insurance products, has launched in four states, offering homeowners and renters insurance in New York, California, Illinois, and New Jersey. Lemonade’s cutting-edge use of technology and its alternative business model could prove disruptive to the insurance industry.
Notwithstanding the absence of a congressional war declaration since Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, Zurich American Insurance Company has invoked a “war exclusion” in an attempt to avoid covering Illinois snack food and beverage company Mondelez International Inc.’s expenses stemming from its exposure to the NotPetya virus in 2017. The litigation, Mondelez Intl. Inc. v. Zurich Am. Ins. Co., No. 2018-L-11008, 2018 WL 4941760 (Ill. Cir. Ct., Cook Cty., complaint filed Oct. 10, 2018), remains pending in an Illinois state court. Continue Reading Zurich Invokes War Exclusion in Battle Over Coverage for NotPetya Attack
In an important decision for policyholders, a New York state appellate court rejected AIG’s effort to avoid defending McGraw-Hill in a series of copyright suits. In doing so, it reversed the trial court and rejected the insurer’s attempted use of the contract exclusion and fortuity doctrine as a bar to coverage under various multimedia liability insurance policies.
Illinois National Insurance Company, an AIG Commercial Insurance company, (“AIG”) told a Pennsylvania federal court in a brief opposing summary judgment that it has no duty to defend Hub Parking Technology USA Inc. (“Hub”), a Pittsburgh-area parking technology company, in a third-party complaint alleging a privacy breach that exposed customers’ credit card numbers at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport.
A federal court in Illinois ruled recently, in Cincinnati Insurance Company v. H.D. Smith Wholesale Drug Company, that Cincinnati Insurance Company was required to indemnify H.D. Smith for a $3.5 million settlement it reached with the State of West Virginia. The settlement resolved an action in which West Virginia alleged that H.D. Smith contributed to the state’s opioid addiction epidemic through its negligent distribution of opioid prescription drugs.