In Ferguson v. St. Paul Fire and Marine Insurance Co., the Missouri Court of Appeals, Western District, found that a public entity liability policy covered the injuries sustained by a man that had been wrongfully convicted, notwithstanding that the policy was issued years after the relevant prosecution.  The court’s ruling is in stark contrast to the Illinois Supreme Court’s recent decision in Sanders v. Illinois Union Insurance Co., No. 124565, 2019 WL6199651 (Ill. Nov. 21, 2019), the subject of a prior blog, where the court found that it was the policies in place at the time of the wrongful prosecution that provided coverage for the offense.  In our earlier blog, we discussed the costly consequences the Sanders decision could impose on policyholders in Illinois.  Although reaching an opposite conclusion than Sanders, Ferguson is based on different policy language and, ultimately, does not appear to be inconsistent with the Sanders decision.  While certainly a welcomed decision from a policyholder’s perspective, Ferguson and Sanders highlight the importance that policy wording can play in defining the scope of an insurance program and how similar factual scenarios can result in drastically different coverages based on seemingly minor differences in policy wording.  A copy of the Ferguson decision can be found here.

Continue Reading Missouri Appeals Court Says Malicious Prosecution Injury Occurs in Each Year of Incarceration; Counter to the Illinois Supreme Court’s Recent Sanders Decision


The Illinois Supreme Court’s recent decision in Sanders v. Illinois Union Insurance Co., 2019 IL 124565 (2019), announced the standard for triggering general liability coverage for malicious prosecution claims under Illinois law.  In its decision, the court construed what appears to be a policy ambiguity against the policyholder in spite of the longstanding rule of contra proferentem, limiting coverage to policies in place at the time of the wrongful prosecution, and not the policies in effect when the final element of the tort of malicious prosecution occurred (i.e. the exoneration of the plaintiff).  The net result of the court’s ruling for policyholders susceptible to such claims is that coverage for jury verdicts for malicious prosecution – awarded in today’s dollars – is limited to the coverage procured at the time of the wrongful prosecution, which may (as in this case) be decades old.  Such a scenario can have costly consequences for policyholders given that the limits procured decades ago are often inadequate due to the ever-increasing awards by juries as well as inflation.  Moreover, it may be difficult to locate the legacy policies and the insurers that issued such policies may no longer be solvent or even exist.  A copy of the decision can be found here.


Continue Reading New Illinois Supreme Court Trigger Rule for CGL Personal Injury “Offenses” Could Have Costly Consequences for Policyholders

In a prior post, we discussed a New York trial-court decision that found an insurance policy issued in 1966, to insure the construction of the World Trade Center, continues to cover modern-day asbestos claims, with each claim constituting an individual occurrence.  Last week, in American Home Assurance Co. v. The Port Authority of N.Y. and N.J., 7628-7628A (1st Dep’t Nov. 15, 2018), an intermediate appellate court affirmed that decision, agreeing that coverage is triggered for claims tied to alleged asbestos exposure at the WTC site in the 1960s and ’70s.

Continue Reading New York Appellate Court Affirms 1966 Insurance Policy Continues to Cover WTC Asbestos Claims

There was nothing ambiguous in former U.S. Supreme Court Justice David Souter’s ruling in AIG Property Cas. Co. v. Cosby, No. 17-1505 (1st Cir. June 7, 2018), where, sitting by designation, Justice Souter ruled that AIG Property and Casualty Co. (“AIG”) must defend Bill Cosby in suits brought by eight women alleging that Cosby defamed them after they accused him of sexual misconduct.  Cosby held two insurance policies issued by AIG:  a homeowner’s policy and a personal excess liability policy (the “umbrella policy””).  Under each policy, AIG has a duty to “pay damages [Cosby] is legally obligated to pay [due to] personal injury or property damage caused by an occurrence covered[] by this policy anywhere in the world . . . .”  Both policies define “personal injury” to include “[d]efamation” and require AIG to pay the cost of defending against suits seeking covered damages.  Both policies also contain so-called “sexual misconduct” exclusions.  The homeowner’s policy’s exclusion bars coverage for liability or defense costs “arising out of any actual, alleged[,] or threatened . . . [s]exual molestation, misconduct or harassment[,] . . . or . . . [s]exual, physical or mental abuse.”  The umbrella policy contained similar wording.  However, that policy also contained another “sexual misconduct” exclusion under the “Limited Charitable Board Directors and Trustees Liability” coverage part.  That exclusion applied more broadly to claims for damages “[a]rising out of, or in any way involving, directly or indirectly, any alleged sexual misconduct” (emphasis added).

Continue Reading 1st Cir. and Former SCOTUS Justice Find Ambiguous “Arising Out Of” Requires Cosby Defense

A New York trial court held last week in American Home Assurance Co. v. The Port Authority of N.Y. and N.J., Index No. 651096/2012 (Sup. Ct. N.Y. Nov. 29, 2017) (Bransten, J.) that an insurance policy issued in 1966, to insure the construction of the World Trade Center, continues to provide insurance coverage over modern-day asbestos claims, with each claim constituting an individual occurrence.

Continue Reading New York Court Finds 51-Year-Old AIG Policy Still Covers World Trade Center Asbestos Injury Claims

From disaster preparedness and workplace safety to autonomous deliveries and performance arts, companies worldwide increasingly rely on drones as a natural extension of their business. Recent Federal Aviation Administration forecasts predict that nearly 4 million drones—over 420,000 of which will be used for commercial operations—will be operating in the U.S. by the year 2021.

Continue Reading Hunton Insurance Lawyers Syed Ahmad and Geoffrey Fehling Discuss The Importance of Insurance Coverage for Commercial Drone Operations

Dick’s Sporting Goods (“DSG”) sued a Chinese insurer, PICC Property and Casualty Company Limited Suzhou Branch (“PICC”), seeking coverage under a products liability insurance policy for personal injury claims arising out of a burst exercise ball. In Dick’s Sporting Goods, Inc. v. PICC Prop. & Cas. Co. Ltd. Suzhou Branch, No. 2:16-cv-01635-DSC-RCM (W.D. Pa. July 28, 2017), a federal magistrate judge in Pennsylvania found that an insurance policy’s forum-selection clause required DSG to assert its claims in a Chinese court and, accordingly, recommended that DSG’s coverage claims be dismissed.

Continue Reading The Ball Is In Their Court: U.S. Insured May Have To Litigate Insurance Coverage Dispute In China

Maryland’s Court of Special Appeals recently ruled in James G. Davis Construction Corporation v. Erie Insurance Exchange1 that a subcontractor’s insurer was obligated to defend the general contractor against allegations that it was negligent in its supervision of the subcontractor. In doing so, the court reversed the trial court’s ruling that the general contractor was covered only for claims of vicarious liability for the subcontractor’s actions.

Continue Reading Maryland Intermediate Appellate Court Finds Duty to Defend General Contractor Against Allegations of Negligence under Subcontractor’s Insurance Policy