Three significant insurance disputes are pending before the New York Court of Appeals, and Hunton partner Syed Ahmad discusses the importance of those cases in Law 360’s article titled 3 Insurance Cases To Watch At NY’s High Court.
On May 27, 2016, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington allowed a declaratory judgment action filed by the Seattle Times Company for excess coverage to proceed to trial despite the insurer’s arguments that the underlying policies had not been exhausted.
As a follow-up to my post yesterday concerning the New York Court of Appeals’ decision in In the Matter of Viking Pump, Inc. and Warren Pumps, LLC, Insurance Appeals, where the New York high court confirmed that policyholders may allocate all amounts of loss to a single policy and a single policy year, Syed Ahmad, a partner in our Insurance Coverage Counseling and Litigation team, was interviewed by Law360 about the decision’s broad-ranging implications. As Mr. Ahmad explained in an article appearing today in Law360, titled NY Allocation Ruling Speeds Policyholders’ Road To Recovery, “[u]nder all-sums, policyholders can seek to recover all amounts owed from one insurer, which will make things much easier for them to recover for a particular loss.” This, plus the decision’s directive that all insurers in a given policy year must pay without the need for horizontal exhaustion of coverage in subsequent policy years, paves the way for policyholders to obtain full indemnification from a single “tower” of coverage.
On Tuesday, May 3, 2016, the New York Court of Appeals held that each of several excess liability insurers can be wholly responsible for the entire extent of their policyholders’ asbestos liabilities. The Court further held that “vertical” exhaustion would apply; rejecting the insurers’ attempt to apply “horizontal” exhaustion before upper-layer policies must respond. The decision, in In the Matter of Viking Pump, Inc. and Warren Pumps, LLC, Insurance Appeals, comes in response to two questions certified from the Delaware Supreme Court:
A federal court in New York has held that an insurer carries the burden of demonstrating which, if any, defense costs should be allocated to the defense of non-covered entities. High Point Design, LLC v. LM Ins. Co., No. 14-cv-7878, 2016 WL 426594 (S.D.N.Y. Feb. 3, 2016). The court ruled that once the policyholder established that amounts were spent defending covered claims, the burden shifts to the insurer to show that certain of those amounts resulted from the defense of other claims against non-covered entities. To meet that burden, the insurer was required to show that the relevant costs would not have been incurred but for the non-covered claims.