A recent ruling by U.S. District Judge Paul Byron of the Middle District of Florida has made clear that the actual words used in an insurance contract matter. The court, in Mt. Hawley Insurance Co. v. Tactic Security Enforcement, Inc., No. 6:16-cv-01425 (M.D. FL. 2018), denied an insurance company’s motion for summary judgment attempting to rely on an exclusion to deny coverage to its policyholder. The policyholder, Que Rico La Casa Del Mofongo, operated a restaurant establishment in Orlando, Florida, and sought coverage for two negligence lawsuits filed against it for allegedly failing to prevent a shooting and another violent incident on its premises.
In a recent Client Alert, Hunton & Williams insurance attorneys Lorelie Masters, Michael Levine, and Geoffrey Fehling discuss the importance of reviewing historical liability insurance policies and the potential benefit these policies can have on minimizing exposure to environmental hazards. In Cooper Industries, LLC v. Employers Insurance of Wausau, et al., No. L-9284-11 (N.J. Super. Ct. Law Div. Oct. 16, 2017), a New Jersey trial court held that an electrical products manufacturer was entitled to coverage rights under commercial general liability policies issued to a predecessor company for environmental remediation costs stemming from a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency cleanup of a 17-mile stretch of the Passaic River in New Jersey.
A federal district court judge in Connecticut recently agreed that an insurer did not owe coverage under a “claims-made” D&O liability insurance policy where the policyholder failed to give timely notice of a suit arising from a loan default. Although the ruling killed the claim, the decision also offered guidance on two critical – and commonly cited – exclusions: the “related claim” and “pending or prior claim” exclusions. The court held that neither exclusion applied under the factual nexus test used by the court, reminding policyholders and insurers alike that successive or seemingly “related” claims may not be connected simply because they are traceable to a common genesis. Read Michael Levine and Katie Miller’s alert on the case here.
The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit recently held in Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation v. BancInsure, Inc., that an action by the FDIC against a failed bank’s former directors and officers was excluded by a D&O policy’s “insured vs. insured” exclusion. Against the backdrop of recent decisions finding similar exclusions to be ambiguous as to FDIC actions, such as St. Paul Mercury Ins. Co. v. Federal Deposit Ins. Corp., No. 14-56830 (9th Cir. Oct. 19, 2016) (previously discussed in this client alert), this decision shows how insurers continue to proactively adjust policy language to fit evolving and new exposures. Policyholders should be doing the same.
On May 20, the Eight Circuit held that the State Bank of Bellingham was covered for losses following the criminal third party wire transfer of $485,000 from the bank to a foreign account. The money was stolen by hackers in 2011 after a bank employee inadvertently left one of three security measures disabled and computers running overnight.