The Washington Supreme Court’s recent en banc decision in Pacific Lutheran University et al. v. Certain Underwriters At Lloyd’s London et al. looked to the broad language of the forum selection clause in the governing insurance policies in upholding the policyholders’ rights to select the forum for their coverage suit.

In Pacific Lutheran, 60 higher education institutions (the “Colleges”) filed suit in the Superior Court for Pierce County, Washington, against 16 insurers (the “Insurers”) that issued all risk insurance policies to the Colleges through the Educational & Institutional Insurance Administrators Inc. (“EIIA”), a risk retention group.  The Colleges brought suit to recover losses incurred as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic.  The Colleges selected the Washington state court based on the forum selection provisions contained in their insurance policies.  In particular, the Colleges relied on the policies’ “suit against the company” clause, which expressly allowed the Colleges to file suit “in any court of competent jurisdiction.”  The suit sought breach of contract damages and a declaration that the Colleges’ COVID-related losses are covered under the policies.
Continue Reading Broad Forum Clause Favors Policyholders’ Choice of Venue

Sanctions are an extreme remedy; frequently sought, but seldom granted.  Such was the case in Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP’s action on behalf of hotel and casino, Treasure Island, LLC (“Treasure Island”), against Affiliated FM Insurance Company (“AFM”) in federal court in Nevada, where AFM “hid” documents which refute the insurer’s defense on the central disputed issue in Treasure Island’s case—and many more actions seeking insurance coverage for losses arising from the COVID-19 pandemic.  A copy of the sanctions order can be found here.Continue Reading Insurer’s Failure to Produce Plainly Relevant Documents Draws Sanctions