Companies face significant exposure from privacy related claims. An increasing number of these claims result from efforts at the state level to regulate use of personal data. One key focus is Illinois’ Biometric Information Privacy Act (“BIPA”), but as lawmakers in other states continue to introduce legislation aimed at regulating the use of biometric data, more court decisions may muddy the waters regarding what conduct may be covered under a general liability policy.Continue Reading Illinois Court Says 7th Circuit Fumbled Illinois Law in BIPA Decision
The Hawaii Supreme Court emphatically rejected insurer efforts to seek reimbursement of defense costs absent a provision in the policy providing for such reimbursement in St. Paul Fire & Marine Insurance Company v. Bodell Construction Company, No. SCCQ-22-0000658, 2023 WL 7517083, (Haw. Nov. 14, 2023). The state high court’s well-reasoned decision rests on bedrock law regarding insurance policy construction and application, follows the nationwide trend of courts compelling insurers to satisfy their contractual obligations in full, and should carry great weight as other jurisdictions continue to debate the same issue.Continue Reading Hawaii Supreme Court Says Aloha to Insurers Trying to Recoup Defense Costs From Policyholders
In HDI Global Specialty SE v. PF Holdings LLC, the Eleventh Circuit recently affirmed a district court ruling that the insurers of two apartment management companies did not have to cover a $54 million arbitration award against the companies for their alleged mismanagement of government-subsidized apartments. The Eleventh Circuit held that management companies’ failure to cooperate breached general liability insurance policies issued by the insurers.Continue Reading Reminder to Policyholders: Cooperate and Consent!
When obtaining insurance coverage, businesses must be wary of policy exclusions that are so broad that they defeat the policy’s primary purpose and render coverage illusory. In Travelers Property Casualty Company of America v. H.E. Sutton Forwarding Co., LLC, No. 2:21-CV-719-JES-KCD, 2023 WL 5486746 (M.D. Fla. Aug. 24, 2023), the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida considered this very issue in deciding when a policy exclusion goes too far.Continue Reading Air Horse One: Florida Sets a High Bar to Find Insurance Coverage Illusory
The Fifth Circuit recently reaffirmed that an insurer’s duty to indemnify hinges on the facts determined in the underlying case, not the allegations. Thus, as confirmed by the Fifth Circuit’s July 31, 2023 decision in Liberty Mut. Fire Ins. Co. v. Copart of Conn., Inc., No. 21-10938, 2023 WL 4862793 (5th Cir. July 31, 2023), an adverse duty-to-defend decision may not foreclose a liability insurer’s indemnity obligations.Continue Reading Fifth Circuit: Policyholders Can Still Salvage Adverse Duty To Defend Rulings
Whether an insurer has a right to reimburse defense costs after a finding that it has no duty to defend remains an open question in Georgia. However, in Continental Casualty Co., et al. v. Winder Laboratories, LLC, et al., Case No. 21-11758 (11th Cir. Jul. 13, 2023), the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals has weighed in with its prediction on the likely answer. Persuaded by the logic of other jurisdictions that, “wide-ranging reimbursement is necessarily inappropriate in a system—like Georgia’s—that is predicated on a broad duty to defend and a more limited duty to indemnify,” the Eleventh Circuit predicted that, “the Supreme Court of Georgia would follow that logic to adopt a ‘no recoupment’ rule to protect its insurance system.” Continue Reading Eleventh Circuit Rejects Implicit Right to Reimbursement of Defense Costs Under Georgia Law
When is a catch-all provision too broad? When “a plain-text reading of that provision would swallow a substantial portion of the coverage that the policy otherwise explicitly purports to provide,” according to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. Citizens Insurance Co. of America v. Wynndalco Enterprises LLC, Case No. 22-2313.
Continue Reading “Catch-All” Can’t Catch ‘Em All: Seventh Circuit Finds Coverage for a BIPA Claim Despite Catch-All Provision in Policy’s Statutory Violation Exclusion
On March 20, 2023, the Southern District of New York denied a policyholder’s claim for coverage and granted the insurer’s motion for judgment on the pleadings in Pine Management, Inc. v. Colony Insurance Company. The parties disputed whether a real estate liability insurance policy provided defense and indemnification for Pine Management, Inc. in an underlying lawsuit brought by numerous companies that Pine managed. A simple question proved pivotal in the outcome: whether Pine had timely sought coverage for its claim.
Continue Reading When Does a Claim Become a “Claim”? A Lesson on Timely Notice
Per- and polyfluoroalkyl Substances (“PFAS”) are a class of substances that have increasingly become the target of federal and state regulation in everything from drinking water, groundwater, site contamination, waste, air emissions, firefighting foam, personal care products, food and food packaging, and now consumer and commercial products. PFAS are widely-used chemicals that have the unique ability to repel both oil and water, which led to their application in many products including items such as stain and water-repellent fabric, chemical-and oil-resistant coatings, food packaging materials, plastics, firefighting foam, solar panels and many others. The carbon-fluorine bond is the strongest in nature, making these compounds highly persistent in the environment.Continue Reading PFAS Regulation and Insurance Coverage Implications
In First Mercury Insurance Co. v. First Florida Building Corp., et al.[AY1] , a federal district court ordered that an insurer had a duty to defend its insured against an underlying personal injury lawsuit. 2023 WL 23116, at *1 (M.D. Fla. Jan. 3, 2023). First Mercury is a cautionary tale about how insurers may try to circumvent their obligations by improperly considering extrinsic evidence when determining whether they have a duty to defend their insureds.
Continue Reading Insurer Could Not Rely on Extrinsic Evidence to Circumvent Its Duty to Defend