A New York district court has held that an insurer must provide coverage under three excess insurance policies issued in 1970 for defense and cleanup costs incurred by Olin Corporation in remediating environmental contamination at seven sites in Connecticut, Washington, Maryland, Illinois, New York, and Washington. Seven of the remaining sites at issue presented questions of fact for trial, with only one site being dismissed due to lack of coverage.

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A US District Court has ruled that a Professional Services Exclusion in a D&O policy does not bar coverage for suits alleging that a network of for-profit career colleges engaged in false marketing regarding the quality of education and job prospects that enrollees would receive. The decision in Education Affiliates Inc., et al. v. Federal Insurance Company, et al., stems from a series of lawsuits filed against the owner of the career colleges by former students and a subpoena and draft complaint served by the Florida Attorney General alleging that the colleges were deceptive in marketing their services to prospective students.

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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.

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In a June 1, 2016 decision, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in National Fire Insurance Co. of Hartford et al. v. E. Mishan & Sons Inc. required CNA Financial Corporation to defend E. Mishan & Sons, Inc.(“Emson”) – best known for its “As Seen on TV” products –in two class actions alleging a conspiracy to trap customers into recurring credit card charges and that Emson sold private consumer information that it obtained through its product sales.

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Hunton & Williams’ insurance practice head, Walter Andrews, was quoted in a Law360 article yesterday regarding the confusion that is likely to result from a federal bankruptcy judge’s decision in Rapid-American Corp. v. Travelers Casualty and Surety Co., where the court concluded that a majority of excess insurers owe no coverage to Rapid-American

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.

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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:

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The Eleventh Circuit confirmed in First Mercury Insurance Company v. Excellent Computing Distributors, Inc., No. 15-10120 (11th Cir. Apr. 20, 2016), that policyholders need not await adjudication of underlying liability litigation before obtaining a confirmation of coverage. The decision arose from a declaratory judgment action concerning the availability of insurance coverage for an underlying negligence suit against the policyholder. The district court dismissed the declaratory judgment action, finding it “inappropriate to exercise jurisdiction over an action seeking a declaration of the plaintiff’s indemnity obligations absent a determination of the insureds’ liability.” The court also noted that “significant factual questions necessary for a resolution of [the] declaratory judgment action are at issue in the state [court] action, and have yet to be resolved.” But the court did not identify the factual questions.

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