Hunton & Williams insurance partner Syed Ahmad commented in a July 19, 2017, Law360 article concerning the Second Circuit Court of Appeals’ recent decision in Olin Corp. v. OneBeacon America Insurance. In the decision, which is the subject of a July 26, 2017, Hunton blog post, the Second Circuit agreed with Olin that its payments toward remediating contamination at five manufacturing sites implicated a series of excess policies issued by Lamorak Insurance Co., formerly OneBeacon.

The ruling adopted the principles articulated by New York’s highest court, the Court of Appeals, in last year’s landmark Viking Pump decision. Hunton & Williams LLP partner Syed Ahmad noted that the ruling appeared to be based on specific language in Lamorak’s policies, but said the appellate panel’s extensive discussion of Viking Pump indicates that insurers whose policies contain different language will have a tough time fighting the all sums regime in future cases.

“[T]he court relied on much broader principles and cited extensively to the reasoning in Viking Pump, which calls into question if similar efforts to avoid all sums will be accepted even in cases with different policy language,” Ahmad said.

Last week, the Second Circuit remanded environmental coverage litigation between Olin Corporation and OneBeacon based on its conclusions that (1) all sums allocation applied and (2) a prior insurance provision allowed OneBeacon the opportunity to show that prior excess insurers had made payments for the same claims, thereby reducing OneBeacon’s liability for Olin’s remediation costs at five manufacturing sites.

The district court had calculated OneBeacon’s liability on a pro rata allocation. Based on the New York Court of Appeals’ intervening decision in Viking Pump (previously covered here, the Second Circuit found that an all sums allocation should apply. The decision thus allows Olin to obtain full indemnification under OneBeacon’s policy for amounts spent to remediate the manufacturing sites, up to the limits of that policy. Because the district court had applied a pro rata allocation based on pre-Viking Pump case law, the Second Circuit remanded for the district court to recalculate damages.

Continue Reading Second Circuit Applies All Sums in Olin-OneBeacon Environmental Coverage Dispute Regarding Remediation Costs at Manufacturing Sites

On November 9, 2016, my colleagues Syed Ahmad, Shawn Regan and Shannon Shaw, published an article in Corporate Counsel discussing a recent decision from New York’s highest court that may impact the exchange of information between policyholders and their insurers. The article addresses the impact of Ambac Assurance v. Countrywide Home Loans, in which the New York Court of Appeals held that an attorney-client communication disclosed to a third party during the period between the signing and closing of a merger will remain privileged only if the communication relates to a common legal interest in a pending or anticipated litigation. The ruling represents a restrictive reading of the common interest doctrine despite a recent trend among federal and state courts to broaden the doctrine to remove any litigation requirement.

A federal appeals court ruled on Wednesday that the absence of a duty to defend does not foreclose the potential for indemnity coverage under primary and umbrella liability policies. The decision in Hartford Casualty Insurance Co. et al. v. DP Engineering LLC, stems from a March 31, 2013, incident where an industrial crane collapsed at a nuclear generating facility near Russellville, Arkansas, causing significant damage and injuries, including one death.

Continue Reading Fifth Circuit: Indemnity Possible Even Where No Defense Owed

Two of three of Rapid-American Corp.’s excess liability insurers do not have to respond to underlying asbestos claims unless and until all underlying coverage is exhausted by the payment of claims, says Judge Bernstein of the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York in a June 7, 2016 decision. Rapid-American has been involved in asbestos litigation since 1974 and settled disputes with many of its underlying insurers, but an amount sufficient to reach its excess coverage policies has not yet been paid. Rapid-American argued that it was not necessary for the primary policies’ underlying limits to be exhausted by actual payment before insurers’ excess liability coverage attaches.

Continue Reading Federal Bankruptcy Judge Says No Excess Coverage in New York Until Underlying Limits Exhausted Through Payment of Claims

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:

Continue Reading NY High Court Says “All Sums” and “Vertical” Exhaustion Apply to Excess Coverage for Asbestos Liabilities

As the New York Times recently reported, Bill Cosby joins the ranks of celebrity homeowners who have tapped defense coverage under their ordinary homeowner’s insurance. Others who paved the way include Roger Clemens, O.J. Simpson, and Bill Clinton. Each had “enhanced personal injury clauses” buried in the fine print of their policies that can provide a defense against lawsuits.1 Bill Cosby has such a policy, and a federal court in California recently denied American International Group’s (“A.I.G.”) request to allow A.I.G. to immediately appeal an earlier decision which held that a “sexual misconduct” exclusion in Mr. Cosby’s homeowner’s policy did not limit this coverage and that A.I.G., therefore, owed a duty to defend Mr. Cosby against a lawsuit brought in California state court by Janice Dickinson (“Dickinson action”).2 In denying A.I.G.’s request for an interim appeal, the court determined that it would be more efficient for the Ninth Circuit to “analyze all exclusions of the policy at the same time.”3

Continue Reading Federal Court Says “No” to AIG’s Appeal of Bill Cosby Coverage Decision

With nearly 2000 locations, the recent outbreaks linked to Chipotle restaurants involving three strains of E. coli, norovirus and Salmonella, have had a substantial impact on the fast-food chain’s supply chain.  In a recent article appearing in Risk Management Magazine, The Chipotle Outbreaks Highlight the Risks of Supply Chain Failures, Syed comments on the insurance issues that are likely to arise, and the ways those issues might be affected by the post-event conduct of affected companies.