In one of the top insurance-coverage decisions of 2021, the Montana Supreme Court at the end of the year handed down a landmark decision adopting the continuous trigger of coverage and “all sums” allocation, finding a duty to defend and ruling that the qualified, or “sudden and accidental” pollution exclusion did not apply. Nat’l Indem. Co. v. State, 499 P.3d 516 (Mont. 2021). The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reserved in part the rulings entered by the trial court, largely upholding a $98,000,000 judgment for the State against its CGL insurer for the policy years 1973 to 1975. The ruling thus helps ensure coverage for the hundreds of claims alleging that the State had failed to warn claimants of the dangers of asbestos exposures to workers in vermiculite mining and milling operations in Libby, Montana, operated by W. R. Grace (the “Libby Mine”).
Continue Reading Landmark Montana Supreme Court Decision Series: Trigger and Allocation

Even an insurance practitioner’s grandmother would agree that an omitted comma can have dire consequences: compare “Let’s eat grandma with “Let’s eat, grandma.”  Yet, to the possible dismay of grammar purists and grandmothers, alike, and despite acknowledging that “the placement (or omission) of one comma can make the difference,” a federal court recently found that an omitted comma in an insurance policy provision had no impact on the policy’s meaning.
Continue Reading Grammatical Imprecision Continues to Fuel Coverage Disputes

In a decision that will influence how policyholders and insurers around the world address business-interruption coverage for COVID-19 losses, the English High Court recently handed down its much-anticipated judgment in the “Test Case,” The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) v. Arch et al. The High Court’s comprehensive analysis will likely serve as an additional tool in policyholders’ arsenal in the ongoing battles over COVID-19 coverage.

Continue Reading English High Court Finds That Business-Interruption Insurance Can Cover COVID-19 Losses

Earlier this year, lawyers for plaintiffs applied to the MDL Panel for consolidation of all COVID-19 business interruption cases in federal courts throughout the country.  On August 12, the Panel rejected plaintiffs’ requests for a single consolidation but requested briefing on the possibility of mini-MDLS as respects five of the insurers that accounted for approximately one third of these cases: Lloyds (26 actions), Cincinnati (70 actions), Hartford (130 actions), Society Insurance (24 actions) and Travelers (45 actions).  On Thursday, September 24, the Panel held a nearly three-hour hearing.

Continue Reading MDL Panel Considers Mini-MDLs For COVID-19 Insurance Cases

The Seventh Circuit affirmed a ruling from the Northern District of Illinois that a subcontractor’s insurer must defend the general contractor in a negligence suit brought by an employee of the subcontractor for injuries suffered on the job.

Continue Reading Seventh Circuit Holds Insurer Must Defend General Contractor in Suit by Subcontractor’s Employee

On Tuesday, the English High Court will issue its much-anticipated ruling in “test cases” for coverage of business-interruption losses during the COVID-19 pandemic under sample policy wordings. Irrespective of the outcome, the London court’s ruling promises to be a significant development for the insurance markets in the UK, as billions of pounds in potential insurance claims are at stake and––beyond this––policyholders and/or insurance companies can be expected to argue that one or another of the findings supports their position(s) for interpreting similar policy language in future COVID-19 business-interruption coverage cases.

The FCA Test Case

In the first action of its kind since the agency was established in 2013, the British markets regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), engineered the test case process earlier this year to seek legal clarity over insurance companies’ obligations to cover business-interruption claims in the context of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Brought before the English High Court (a trial level court in the UK), the FCA test case involves around 370,000 policyholders and eight insurance companies. The case was heard by Judge Christopher Butcher, who sits in the Commercial Court, and Judge Julian Flaux from the Court of Appeal.  Experienced English counsel prepared and presented arguments to the tribunal for expedited consideration and resolution. The FCA hired a solicitor firm, which instructed well-regarded barristers from Devereux Chambers and Fountain Court Chambers; the insurers engaged their own solicitors and barristers.


Continue Reading Policyholders and Insurers Await Highly Anticipated English High Court Ruling Regarding Coverage for COVID-19 Business-Interruption Losses

A Massachusetts intermediate appellate court recently found no coverage for a general contractor listed as an additional insured under a subcontractor’s general liability insurance policy. The general contractor sought coverage for a negligence action brought by an employee of the subcontractor regarding workplace injuries.

Continue Reading Massachusetts Appellate Court Reads Cross Liability Exclusion Broadly in Denying Additional Insured Coverage to General Contractor

A North Carolina court recently ruled in favor of all sums allocation. Duke Energy Carolinas, LLC v. AG Insurance SA/NV, No. 17 CVS 5594 (N.C. Sup. Ct.). In that case, Duke Energy is seeking coverage for “liabilities linked to coal combustion residuals (‘CCRs’), i.e., coal ash, at fifteen Duke-owned power plants in North and South Carolina.” In a recent summary judgment decision, the court resolved a dispute between Duke and TIG Insurance Company, as successor to Ranger Insurance Company, about whether all sums allocation or pro rata allocation applied.

Continue Reading North Carolina Court Rules In Favor Of All Sums

An appeals court has overturned an insurer’s successful dismissal of an insurance coverage lawsuit arising from the insurer’s refusal to defend a North Carolina assisted living operator in a False Claims Act lawsuit alleging more than $60 million in damages. The court held that that the insurer improperly denied coverage under the operator’s professional liability policy (covering “damages resulting from a claim arising out of a medical incident”) because the alleged improper billing had a causal connection to the operator’s failure to render medical professional services and, therefore, “arose out of” a covered medical incident.

Continue Reading Professional Liability Insurer Breached Policy by Refusing to Defend False Claims Act Lawsuit