In Selective Ins. Co. of the Southeast v. William P. White Racing Stables, Inc. (http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-11th-circuit/1882819.html), the Eleventh Circuit recently ruled that a liability insurer is not required to defend its insured against a claim for spoliation of evidence. In the underlying case a jockey, James Rivera, was paralyzed in a racing accident when the horse he was riding suddenly collapsed. Mr. Rivera sued the race track, Mr. Rivera’s employer, and the horse’s veterinarians, claiming that the horse was not fit to be raced due to the negligence of most of the defendants. His claims against his employer, White Racing Stables, did not assert negligence but alleged that by failing to preserve the horse’s remains, White Racing had violated Florida’s workers compensation law by failing to investigate and pursue Mr. Rivera’s claims against the other defendants. He also asserted a claim for spoliation.
On February 11, 2016, New York’s highest court held in Selective Ins. Co. of Am. v. Cnty. of Rensselaer, 2016 N.Y. Slip Op. 01001 (2016) that, in a class action alleging improper strip searches of arrestees over a four-year period, each improper strip search was a separate occurrence under the policies at issue, mandating a separate deductible per strip search. Significantly, although the issue in this case concerned application of per-occurrence deductibles, the same reasoning would apply if the issue had been over the number of applicable policy limits.