Texas is among the minority of states that permit few, if any, deviations from the “eight-corners rule,” which provides that an insurer’s duty to defend must be determined from the complaint and the policy, without regard to extrinsic evidence or facts. In Bitco Gen. Ins. Corp. v. Monroe Guar. Ins. Co., No. 19-51012, 2022 WL 1090800 (5th Cir. Apr. 12, 2022) (“Bitco”), the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals declined to consider extrinsic evidence in determining Bitco’s duty to defend and outlined when a court applying Texas law can deviate from the state’s strict eight-corners rule under the Monroe exception.
Continue Reading Texas Duty to Defend: To Deviate or Not to Deviate

NL Industries recently prevailed against its commercial general liability insurers in the New York Appellate Division in a noteworthy case regarding the meaning of “expected or intended” injury and the meaning of “damages” in a liability insurance policy. In Certain Underwriters at Lloyd’s, London v. NL Industries, Inc., No. 2021-00241, 2022 WL 867910 (N.Y. App. Div. Mar. 24, 2022) (“NL Indus. II”), the Appellate Division held that exclusions for expected or intended injury required a finding that NL actually expected or intended the resulting harm; not merely have knowledge of an increased risk of harm. In addition, the court held that the funding of an abatement fund designed to prevent future harm amounted to “damages” in the context of a liability policy because the fund has a compensatory effect. NL Industries II is a reminder to insurers and policyholders alike that coverage is construed liberally and exclusions are construed narrowly towards maximizing coverage. 
Continue Reading New York Court Narrowly Interprets “Expected or Intended Injury” Exclusion in Win for Policyholder

Hunton commercial litigators and insurance recovery lawyers teamed up to address the intricacies of snap removal – a strategy being employed by insurers and other litigants with increasing frequency.  The technique is designed to defeat the forum-defendant rule that permits a plaintiff to bring its case in state court when suing a defendant in the defendant’s own home state.  However, some courts to confront this maneuver have rejected its use, disallowing a savvy defendant to effect an end-run on the forum-defendant rule by promptly removing a state court lawsuit before an in-state defendant is “properly joined and served.”  A recent Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly article written by Christopher Cunio, Nicholas Stelakis and Veronica Adams discusses the tension that is emerging on this issue and how courts have addressed it.
Continue Reading Oh Snap! Snap Removal is Not All it’s Cracked Up to Be

In 1938, a DuPont chemist’s experiment yielded not—as he first thought—a lumpen, waxy mistake, but a new chemical with remarkable properties: heat-resistance, chemical stability, and low surface friction. Decades of continuing experimentation yielded a class of chemicals with the capacity to make non-stick, water-resistant coatings. In time, these chemicals, per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs), would become a major component in thousands of consumer goods: food packaging, non-stick cookware, waterproof clothing, paint, stain-resistant carpets and furniture, and firefighting foams. The discovery of the toxicity of these remarkable chemicals lagged behind the widespread adoption, but eventually yielded a moniker that reflected PFAS’s stability and longevity: “Forever Chemicals.”
Continue Reading PFAS: From Happy Mistake to Ubiquity to Toxic Liability (But is there coverage?)

Liability insurance typically affords broad defense coverage.  But insurers sometimes reserve their right to challenge the insured’s right to a defense, or even outright terminate the defense.  When this occurs after the insurer has been in exclusive control of the defense, some courts recognize that the consequences can be catastrophic for the insured defendant.  Insurers, therefore, may be estopped from denying coverage where doing so will prejudice the insured.  This is exactly what transpired in RLI Ins. Co. v. AST Engineering Corp., No. 20-214 (2d Cir. Jan. 12, 2022), where the Second Circuit affirmed the district court’s decision that an insurer’s attempt to withdraw the defense it had provided to its insured for three years would prejudice the insured.
Continue Reading Defenses Raised Three-Years Too Late Estop Insurer’s Coverage Denial

Supply chain disruptions caused by a number of unrelated events – the pandemic, ice storms, wildfires, and droughts – were commonplace in the retail industry in 2021.  Obtaining the correct insurance coverage can help mitigate present and future supply chain risks.  In the recently published Retail Industry 2021 Year In Review, we highlight some key concerns and coverages to look out for.  A copy of the full publication can be found here.
Continue Reading Supply Chain Disruption? Don’t Overlook Insurance

While COVID-19 dominated the insurance coverage landscape in 2021, it was not the only subject of significant decisions in the insurance space. Directors and Officers coverage (“D&O”) and cyber insurance continued to make headlines while other coverage lines left the industry questioning what is to come in 2022. We highlight a few of the most impactful trends and cases in this 2021 review, and we look forward to what 2022 may deliver in the world of insurance coverage.
Continue Reading Year in Review: Top Insurance Cases of 2021

From event-driven litigation and event cancellations to securities claims and regulatory enforcement actions, the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a number of directors and officers liability exposures extending far beyond business interruption losses. The first wave of COVID-19 securities suits, for example, focused on allegations that companies made false and misleading statements or failed to disclose in securities filings how they responded to the pandemic (in the case of several cruise lines) or stood to benefit from it (in the case of pharmaceutical companies). Most, but not all, of those suits were dismissed on early motions. In all cases, however, those companies and individuals would have benefited from robust D&O liability insurance coverage.
Continue Reading New Year, New COVID-19 Securities Claims Present Continued D&O Exposures

The Central District of California recently rejected an attempt by Federal Insurance Company, a Chubb company, to avoid its duty to defend its insureds in an $8.5 million lawsuit with a former employee.

TriPacific Capital Advisors, LLC acquired Directors and Officers (D&O) coverage from Federal and Employment Practices Liability (EPL) coverage from Travelers Insurance Company. While those policies were in effect, a former TriPacific employee sued the company and its president, Geoffrey Fearns, for a variety of employment-related causes of action concerning his termination and compensation. TriPacific and Fearns tendered notice to both insurers, seeking indemnification and defense costs. Both policies contained a duty to defend.  While Travelers agreed to defend under a reservation of rights, Federal denied coverage based on multiple grounds, including its policy’s “other insurance” provision, contending that the provision rendered its policy “excess” to the Travelers policy.  Federal also argued that TriPacific had not satisfied the D&O policy’s $150,000 self-insured retention and, thus, coverage had not been implicated, in any event. TriPacific maintained that neither the SIR nor the “other insurance” provision pertained to Federal’s duty to defend and brought suit to enforce the duty to defend.
Continue Reading Potential Coverage Garners Total Defense: “Other Insurance” Provision Does Not Relieve Insurer’s Duty to Defend