A federal court recently denied an insurer’s motion to dismiss an insured’s claim for declaratory relief. The insurer argued that the policyholder’s declaratory judgment claim was redundant of its breach of contract claim. The Court ruled that “redundancy is not grounds for dismissal under Rule 12(b)(6).”

In The United Church of Marco Island, Inc. v. Lexington Insurance Company , the policyholder, The United Church of Marco Island, Inc., fell victim to a $1.2 million fraud after a series of emails impersonating church officials and a Registered Financial Advisor who had a relationship with the Church resulted in the Church sending funds to an “illicit bank account.” The Church was able to recover $600,000 and sought coverage under its Commercial Crime Policy issued by Lexington Insurance Company for the remaining $600,000.

Continue Reading Insurer Can’t Dismiss Church’s Claim for Declaratory Relief

The Eighth Circuit has affirmed that an AIG affiliate must cover the full $32 million loss stemming from an employee’s embezzlement scheme. The court found that not only was National Union Fire Insurance Company of Pittsburgh (“National Union”) liable for the $3 million the employee actually stole, but that the plain language of the commercial crime policy also required coverage for the $29 million in excess costs her scheme caused Cargill to endure.Continue Reading Eighth Circuit Confirms Breadth of Commercial Crime Policy Includes Loss from Actual and Implied Takings

Last week, the Fifth Circuit affirmed that a title company’s crime protection policy applies to cover loss from a fraudulent wire transfer. The insurer, RLI Insurance Company (RLI), had argued that the $250,945.31 transfer was not covered under the funds transfer fraud endorsement because the instruction that led to the transfer was authorized and approved by the insured, Valero Title Inc. (Valero). Specifically, a Valero employee instructed Valero’s bank to wire the funds to a fraudulent account after a fraudster posing as a lender’s employee intercepted email communications regarding a payoff transaction and deceptively instructed the transfer.Continue Reading Fifth Circuit Affirms Crime Policy’s Applicability to Fraudulent Transfer

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

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

As businesses continue to increase their reliance on technology, they are bound to face the inevitable risks associated with online transactions and other cyber exposures. This, in turn, emphasizes the importance of having the proper insurance policies and compliance methods in place to prevent or, at least, mitigate losses that ensue from these risks. In this context, many insurance policies require that there be a “direct” loss for there to be coverage, which has spawned numerous lawsuits about what the word “direct” means. The latest court to weigh in has sided with the insured and interpreted that term broadly to essentially mean proximate causation.
Continue Reading Court Does Not Beat Around The Bush and Is Rather Direct In Rejecting Insurer’s Causation Argument In Computer Fraud Claim

Recently, the Ninth Circuit dealt with a case involving a scenario that is becoming all too common. In Ernst & Haas Mgmt. Co., Inc. v. Hiscox, Inc., 23 F.4th 1195 (9th Cir. 2022), a property management company’s accounts payable clerk received several e-mails from her supervisor instructing her to pay some invoices. Unbeknownst to the clerk, these e-mails did not originate with her supervisor, but were actually part of a fraudulent scheme to elicit fraudulent bank transfers. The clerk paid off hundreds of thousands of dollars in “invoices” before becoming suspicious but, by then, it was too late and the damage was done.
Continue Reading A Win for Policyholders Who Are Victims of Fraudulent Bank Transfer Schemes

A hotel operator defeated an insurer’s motion to dismiss its suit alleging that the insurer wrongfully denied coverage and acted in bad faith by denying the hotel’s $1.9 million claim arising from an employee’s fraudulent scheme diverting commissions to fictitious travel agencies. The court held that the hotel operator had suffered an “insurable loss” and rejected the insurer’s argument that the claim was barred under the policy’s suit limitations provision.
Continue Reading Court Rejects Insurer’s Attempt to Dismiss Hotel’s $1.9 Million Crime Losses