Whether an insurer has a right to reimburse defense costs after a finding that it has no duty to defend remains an open question in Georgia. However, in Continental Casualty Co., et al. v. Winder Laboratories, LLC, et al., Case No. 21-11758 (11th Cir. Jul. 13, 2023), the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals has weighed in with its prediction on the likely answer. Persuaded by the logic of other jurisdictions that, “wide-ranging reimbursement is necessarily inappropriate in a system—like Georgia’s—that is predicated on a broad duty to defend and a more limited duty to indemnify,” the Eleventh Circuit predicted that, “the Supreme Court of Georgia would follow that logic to adopt a ‘no recoupment’ rule to protect its insurance system.” Continue Reading Eleventh Circuit Rejects Implicit Right to Reimbursement of Defense Costs Under Georgia Law
This insurance coverage story begins like any other: an insurance company (Ironshore Specialty) issued a business insurance policy to a North Carolina hotel (RPG Hospitality). The policy provided coverage for wind-driven rain, but the most Ironshore would pay for such a claim was “the Wind Driven Rain Sub-Limit of Liability shown in the Sub-Limit Provision Endorsement.” However, the Ironshore policy contained no Sub-Limit Provision Endorsement. Ironshore testified that it left the endorsement out of the policy by mistake; RPG contended that it was intentionally omitted. After Hurricane Florence struck the insured hotel, causing severe damage, RPG tendered a claim and enlisted the assistance of an Ironshore adjuster in coordinating the demolition and repair work. The Ironshore adjuster, aware that the policy did not contain the relevant sub-limit endorsement, approved the work, which exceeded the purported sub-limit by millions of dollars. When Ironshore refused to pay, a lawsuit followed.Continue Reading Lost in the Wind: Missing Endorsement Yields Policy Ambiguity
The 2021 Chambers and Partners rankings for Georgia insurance recovery practices and lawyers are out and Hunton Andrews Kurth has received top honors. The rankings include Hunton Andrews Kurth’s Insurance Recovery practice and partners Lawrence J. Bracken II and Michael S. Levine, with all receiving Band 1 honors – the organization’s top-tier ranking. “The top-level ranking of our practice in Georgia, and the work that Larry and Mike bring to our clients in Georgia, specifically, is emblematic of the work our team is doing nationwide,” said Insurance Recovery Practice Head, Walter J. Andrews. “The Firm and I could not be more proud,” he added.
Continue Reading Hunton Andrews Kurth’s Insurance Recovery Practice, Partners Larry Bracken and Mike Levine Receive Band 1 Honors from Chambers USA in Georgia
On October 6, 2020, U.S. District Judge Thomas Thrash Jr. issued Georgia’s first COVID-19 business interruption insurance decision, finding Governor Brian Kemp’s State of Emergency Executive Order did not cause “physical loss of” the policyholders’ closed dining rooms. Henry’s Louisiana Grill, Inc. et al. v. Allied Ins. Co. of Am., No. 1:20-cv-2939-TWT (N.D. Ga. Oct. 6, 2020). The decision takes an unusually narrow view of the phrase “loss of,” as it is used in the policy and, consequently, reaches a conclusion that is inconsistent with how other courts have analyzed the phrase.
Continue Reading Georgia Court Says “Au Revoir” to Henry’s Louisiana Grill’s COVID-19 Business Interruption Claim
In Dunn, et al. v. Columbia National Insurance Company, No. 2:17-cv-0246 (N.D. Ga.), an insurance company refused to defend an insured in a personal injury claim contending that the insured failed to cooperate in the defense. The underlying claim stemmed from an automobile accident, where an employee of Lawson Air Conditioning and Plumbing, Inc. (“Lawson”), Ronald Patterson, struck members of the Dunn family with a pickup truck owned by Lawson as the family was walking out of a Walmart store. The Dunn family members suffered bodily injury as a proximate result of the accident. Patterson admitted fault.
Continue Reading Insurer Cannot Invoke Duty to Cooperate as Affirmative Defense After Denying Coverage
The Eleventh Circuit recently found that an insured had not paid enough to satisfy its policy’s deductible and would thus be required to pay more before coverage would be available. The court’s holding turned on the meaning of a “tenants and neighbors” provision that extended coverage, but only for claims arising in countries that apply a civil law system. As explained below, this ruling underscores the value of retaining experienced coverage counsel to identify potential gaps and deficiencies in coverage.
Continue Reading Let’s Keep It Civil: Appeals Court Ruling on Napoleonic Civil Code Provision Highlights the Importance of Insurance Coverage Reviews