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

While companies develop their return-to-office policies or decide to keep employees working remotely, they should be mindful of potential liability under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (“WARN Act”) in the event of future layoffs. A recent opinion from the Eastern District of Virginia provides a timely alert for companies to review their employment practices liability (“EPL”) coverage and understand their risk of future exposures. The court held that remote employees alleging violations under the WARN Act—a statute requiring sixty days’ notice before a “mass layoff” at a “single site of employment”—could receive class certification, despite the fact that class members physically worked at different locations. EPL policies can effectively mitigate the related risk by covering the cost of litigation, as well as the company’s resulting liability.
Continue Reading Employers Be WARNed: Remote Employees Receive Class Certification in Suit for Wrongful Termination

An amended version of the Comprehensive Insurance Disclosure Act recently went into effect in New York State. This law applies to all civil lawsuits filed in New York State Court on or after December 31, 2021. The first disclosures required by the law will be due soon and it is important for defendants to be aware of their new obligations.
Continue Reading New York’s New Insurance Disclosure Law Goes Into Effect

Most insurance policies include a period of limitation provision that limits how long policyholders have to sue their insurers for coverage under the policy.  But those periods of limitation can be traps for the unwary.  As with many insurance provisions, different states construe the same language differently.  States not only start the clock at different times, some states pause the clock while the insurer considers whether it will provide coverage.
Continue Reading Running Out the Clock: The Period of Limitation in COVID-19 Insurance Lawsuits May Soon Come to an End

A New Mexico court recently granted judgment on the pleadings against an insurer and found coverage, reminding the insurer that different words in a policy, indeed, have different meanings.

In Power of Grace, LLC v. Weatherby, Power of Grace, a policyholder, sued its insurer, Hudson Insurance Companies, and its insurance agent, Weatherby-Eisenrich Inc.  Power of Grace alleged that Weatherby and Hudson were liable for damages it might incur in an underlying wrongful death lawsuit arising from a tractor-trailer accident. 
Continue Reading Tomato-Tomato? – New Mexico Court Offers Insurer a $5 Million Reminder that Different Words Have Different Meanings

We have written over the past year about a string of pro-policyholder decisions from Delaware courts. One policyholder, however, recently had its claims dismissed based on application of Delaware law, based on one of 2020’s important D&O cases that limited coverage for appraisal actions initiated by stockholders pursuant to Title 8, Section 262 of the Delaware Code. In Stillwater Mining Co. v. National Union, the Delaware Superior Court explained that Stillwater had seized upon the Court’s 2019 opinion in Solera Holdings v. XL Specialty, which had held that a Section 262 appraisal action constituted a “securities claim” because it alleged a “violation” of state statutory or common law regulating securities. The policyholder alleged in its complaint that Delaware law governed the D&O policy, but when the Delaware Supreme Court reversed Solera, Stillwater “pivoted” to the view that Montana law, rather than Delaware law, governed the policy.

Continue Reading Rare Imbalance?—Delaware’s “Center of Gravity” in D&O Policies Dooms Mining Co.’s Appraisal Coverage Claim, But Supreme Court Appraisal Review Looms Large

Priority of coverage disputes can arise where different insurers for different insureds cover the same claim. Generally, competing insurers will compare the “Other Insurance” clauses of their policies to decide who should cover the claim first. But where one of the insureds owes contractual indemnity to the other, the indemnity obligation may govern. Thus, the insurer for the insured who owes indemnity may cover the claim first, even if it would have been excess per the “Other Insurance” clauses. Such was the case in Cent. Sur. Co. v. Metro. Transit Auth., et al., No. 20-1474-CV, 2021 WL 4538633, at *1 (2d Cir. Oct. 5, 2021).
Continue Reading Indemnity is King: Indemnity Provision in Commercial Contract Trumps Other Insurance Clause in Insurance Policy

Hunton insurance attorneys Syed Ahmad, Geoffrey Fehling, and Kevin Small commented on a retailer’s insurance dispute related to COVID-19 in the latest edition of the Recall Roundup, posted on the Hunton Retail Law Resource Blog.

In a setback for retail-policyholders hoping to enforce coverage for losses due to COVID-19 in federal court, a Tennessee district court recently knocked out a complaint filed by a sprawling Nashville establishment seeking coverage under a food contamination provision in its property policy. The court’s opinion dismissing Nashville Underground LLC v. AMCO Insurance Co. is noteworthy due to the great lengths taken to define a policy provision—intended to provide broad coverage for disruption of business due to the suspicion of food contamination—in a way that limits coverage contrary to the reasonable expectations of businesses purchasing policies specifically tailored to protect against actual or suspected contamination.

Continue Reading Tennessee Federal Court Dismisses Recent Food Contamination-Related Insurance Coverage Dispute Tied to the Ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic

The First Circuit recently held that a “Special Hazard and Fluids Limitation Endorsement” was ambiguous and therefore there was excess coverage for a fuel spill that occurred after a tanker-truck overturned.

In Performance Trans. Inc. v. General Star Indem. Co., the First Circuit reversed the District Court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of General Star Indemnity Company. The District Court held that the excess policy General Star issued to Performance Trans. Inc. precluded coverage for a spill that resulted in the leaking of thousands of gallons of fuel. The District Court relied on the existence of a total pollution exclusion to bar coverage and held that the policy’s Special Hazards and Fluids Limitation Endorsement could not create an ambiguity that would afford coverage.
Continue Reading First Circuit Rules Excess Insurer Must Provide Coverage for Fuel Spill

A D.C. federal judge recently held that an insurer could be responsible to a TV station for more than $25 million in an underlying malpractice suit where the insurer failed to send timely notice preserving its rights under the policy in violation of a Virginia statute.

Continue Reading Insurer Can’t Mute TV Station’s Recovery for $25 Million Malpractice Claim