In what has been described as a “watershed” cyber incident, hackers recently used sophisticated malware—dubbed Triton—to take control of a key safety device installed at a power plant in Saudi Arabia. One of the few confirmed hacking tools designed to manipulate industrial control systems, this new breach is part of a growing trend in hacking attempts on utilities, production facilities, and other critical infrastructure in the oil and gas industry. The Triton malware attack targeted the Triconex industrial safety technology made by Schneider Electric SE. The attack underscores the importance of mitigating this and other similar risks through cyber and other traditional liability insurance as part of a comprehensive cybersecurity program.
This week, SEC Chairman Jay Clayton issued a statement on Initial Coin Offerings (ICO) addressing the legality, fairness, and risks associated with those offerings. Although the agency’s bulletin was one of many recent public statements by federal agencies on ICOs and cryptocurrencies generally, this new warning highlights additional issues and concerns with the ICO phenomenon that are particularly relevant to insurance coverage.
In this final post in our Hunton & Williams Bermuda Form Arbitration Series, we discuss case law involving the Bermuda Form. As explained in a prior post, the Bermuda Form includes an arbitration clause specifying that disputes be submitted to arbitration in London under the English Arbitration Act, but applying the substantive law of New York. The natural consequence of this arbitration provision is that reported decisions analyzing the substantive provisions of the Bermuda Form are few and far between. Little binding precedent has developed—or will develop—regarding interpretation of the Bermuda Form given that awards are issued in confidential arbitration proceedings. Nonetheless, several decisions in England and the United States offer insight into the handling and resolution of disputes involving Bermuda Form policies.
Earlier this month, the California Supreme Court agreed to review Montrose Chemical Corporation’s appeal from a September appellate court ruling that rejected Montrose’s preferred “vertical exhaustion” method of exhausting excess-layer policies in favor of a policy-by-policy review to determine which policies are triggered. The California high court’s grant of Montrose’s petition for review is potentially significant in clarifying the appropriate excess policy exhaustion trigger under California law, not to mention in addressing a significant insurer defense in Montrose’s longstanding coverage dispute over environmental insurance coverage, which has been winding its way through California courts for more than 25 years.
As explained in a prior post in the Blog’s Bermuda Form Arbitration Series, some time after the final hearing, the arbitration tribunal will issue an Award. This post focuses on challenges to and enforcement of that Award.
A New York trial court held last week in American Home Assurance Co. v. The Port Authority of N.Y. and N.J., Index No. 651096/2012 (Sup. Ct. N.Y. Nov. 29, 2017) (Bransten, J.) that an insurance policy issued in 1966, to insure the construction of the World Trade Center, continues to provide insurance coverage over modern-day asbestos claims, with each claim constituting an individual occurrence.
A prior post in the Blog’s Bermuda Form Arbitration Series discussed several strategic considerations for the discovery and briefing stages of Bermuda Form arbitrations. This post focuses on the final stages of arbitration: The final hearing, and awards of interest and costs.
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The Final Hearing
The presentation of evidence in the “final hearing” of a London arbitration differs substantially from traditional trial practice in the United States. A party’s direct or affirmative evidence is presented in writing in witness statements. Witnesses are presented live only for cross-examination. A party should offer all its witnesses for cross-examination; if a party does not do so, it risks that the arbitrators will not give a witness’s direct evidence much weight. This rule does not apply if the parties agree that a witness need not be presented for cross-examination. Continue Reading
The Fifth Circuit recently upheld the dismissal on summary judgment of a policyholder’s claim under a commercial crime insurance policy, affirming the trial court’s narrow interpretation of the terms “owned” and “loss,” concluding that the policyholder did not “own” the funds at issue or suffer a “loss” when it loaned those funds to the fraudsters. In so holding, the court ignored state court precedent concerning construction of those same terms.
In Cooper Industries, Ltd. v. National Union Fire Insurance Co. of Pittsburgh, Pa., No. 16-20539 (5th Cir. Nov. 20, 2017), Cooper invested its pension-plan assets into what proved to be a multimillion-dollar Ponzi scheme. Over the course of many years, Cooper invested more than $175 million into various equity and bond investments managed by fraudsters who used the investment funds in furtherance of the Ponzi scheme. After discovering the fraud, Cooper recouped a large portion of its investment and sought coverage from its commercial crime insurer for the unrecovered $35 million. The policy limited coverage to “loss” of property that Cooper “owned.” Neither term was defined in the policy. Continue Reading
Whether a policyholder’s losses are “direct” or “indirect” can be coverage-determinative. Most financial institution bonds exclude “indirect” or “consequential” losses. A recent decision in Fed. Deposit Ins. Corp. v. Arch Ins. Co., No. CV C14-0545RSL, 2017 WL 5289547 (W.D. Wash. Nov. 13, 2017) addressed the issue of “direct” versus “indirect” losses in a dispute under a financial institution bond issued by Arch Insurance Company (Arch) to Washington Mutual Bank (WaMu). The court held that WaMu’s losses resulting from its purchase of fraudulent loans were “direct” losses, and that WaMu’s sale and contractual obligation to repurchase the fraudulent loans did not convert its losses from direct to indirect. Continue Reading
The U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, in Innovak International v. The Hanover Insurance Co., recently granted summary judgment in favor of Hanover Insurance Company finding that it had no duty to defend Innovak against a data breach lawsuit. Innovak, which is a payroll service, suffered a breach of employee personal information, including social security numbers. The employees then filed suit against Innovak alleging it had negligently created a software that allowed personal information to be accessed by third parties. Innovak sought a defense for the lawsuit from its commercial general liability carrier, Hanover Insurance Company. Innovak argued that the employee’s allegations triggered the personal and advertising injury coverage part of the policy, which covers loss arising out of the advertising of the policyholder’s goods or services, invasion of privacy, libel, slander, copyright infringement, and misappropriation of advertising ideas. The court disagreed and found the employees’ allegations did not involve a publication that would trigger coverage under the commercial general liability policy.