Hurricane Florence has yet to make landfall, but the storm has already wreaked havoc on this weekend’s college football schedule, concerts, and other events. West Virginia and NC State postponed their Saturday game indefinitely. Rescheduling remains to be seen. UCF and North Carolina cancelled their game outright, as did East Carolina and Virginia Tech. Other teams relocated their games or changed dates and start times, with many offering free tickets to fans who can accommodate the last-minute changes. The NFL also is keeping a close eye on the situation, as the storm could impact Sunday’s game between the Washington Redskins and the Indianapolis Colts at FedEx Field. Meanwhile, non-sporting events also have been cancelled, including Alan Jackson’s concert at the North Charleston Coliseum, the Zac Brown Band’s concerts in Charlotte and Raleigh, and J. Cole’s Dreamville Festival, which alone will require the refunding of some 30,000 tickets.
The Sports Litigation Alert has published an article written by Hunton & Williams insurance recovery attorneys Lorelie S. Masters, Michael S. Levine, and Tae Andrews. The article, entitled “Recent Catastrophic Storms Emphasize the Need for Event-Cancellation Insurance for Professional Sports Organizations,” originally ran in the October 13th issue of the Alert. In the article, Masters, Levine, and Andrews discuss the need for event-cancellation insurance for games and other events held in professional sports organizations’ stadiums.
In football as in life, the best defense is often a good offense. But, that adage does not always play well in litigation. In Riddell, Inc. v. Superior Court, No. B275482, 2017 WL 3614305 (Cal. Ct. App. Aug. 23, 2017), the California Court of Appeal blew the whistle on such a tactic, holding that an insurer could not use discovery tools in a coverage dispute with its policyholder in order to prejudice the policyholder’s defense in an underlying lawsuit.
Hunton & Williams Insurance Recovery partner, Michael Levine, was quoted in an August 29, 2017 article appearing in Business Insurance, regarding the rapid increase in lawsuits, and insurance issues, surrounding concussions in high school and college sports. Among other things, the article discusses a coverage lawsuit filed by Great American Assurance Company against Conference USA in federal court in Dallas, Texas. In the lawsuit, the insurer alleges that its policy did not afford coverage for football concussion injuries because the policy included a “limited event coverage endorsement,” which limited bodily injury coverage to a list of sports that apparently did not include football. As Mr. Levine noted, the use of policy endorsements to limit coverage for bodily injury claims to those arising in some sports, but not when they arise in football – where injuries are most likely to occur – is troubling. Football is where the coverage is needed most; yet the insurer apparently removed it using a policy endorsement that purports to afford coverage, not restrict it. As Mr. Levine notes, cases like this underscore the need for policyholders to carefully review all policy endorsements to ensure that the policy when read as a whole actually provides the coverages that are needed the most.