On April 13, 2018, the Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division, affirmed a trial court decision finding that a bill of sale intended to include the transfer of insurance rights and finding that such transfer did not violate an anti-assignment clause. Cooper Industries, LLC, Plaintiff-Respondent, v. Columbia Casualty Company And One Beacon America Insurance Company, Defendants-Appellants, and Employers Insurance Of Wausau, Allstate Insurance Company, Lexington Insurance Company And Westchester Fire Insurance Company, 2018 WL 1770260,(N.J. Super. A.D., 2018). In May 1986, Cooper Industries merged several entities and transferred assets to a “new” McGraw-Edison Company through a bill of sale. Eighteen years later, on November 30, 2004, Cooper Industries merged the new McGraw-Edison company into itself. In 2009, the Environmental Protection Agency determined that Cooper Industries was responsible for generating and disposing of hazardous substances due to McGraw-Edison’s actions taken years earlier. Cooper Industries sought coverage under the commercial general liability policies McGraw-Edison had in place at the time of the environmental and pollution-related occurrences.
The Delaware Supreme Court ruled on Monday in a long-running dispute involving Viking Pump’s and Warren Pumps’ claims for recovery under primary, umbrella, and excess insurance. The Delaware high court had certified two questions to the New York Court of Appeals. The Delaware decision follows the New York high court’s ruling in May that the policies required “all sums” allocation and “vertical” exhaustion” (click here and here for prior posts).
In a landmark decision, the California Supreme Court on August 20, 2015, held that enforcing an anti-assignment clause in an insurance policy as a bar to coverage – where the assignment occurred post-loss – was contrary to California Insurance Code Section 520, which provides that consent-to-assignment clauses are invalid if invoked after a loss has happened. See Fluor Corp. v. Superior Court (Hartford Accident & Indemnity Co.), Case No. S205889 (Cal. Aug. 20, 2015). The opinion overruled the California Supreme Court’s prior decision in Henkel Corp. v. Hartford Accident & Indemnity Co., 29 Cal. 4th 934 (2003). Henkel had held that corporate successors were not entitled to recovery under an insurance policy assigned without the insurer’s consent, even if the assignment was post-loss and therefore imposed no additional obligations on the insurer. The California Supreme Court’s overruling of Henkel stands to facilitate corporate transactions by making it easier for companies to rely on insurance policies issued to their corporate predecessors.