Hunton Insurance Coverage attorneys Syed Ahmad and Geoff Fehling contributed to the firm’s Recall Roundup, a monthly publication canvassing consumer product and retail recalls and related litigation. In the October issue, Ahmad and Fehling discuss two recent decisions with potentially broad implications. In Lake Country Foods, Inc. v. Houston Casualty Co., No. 18-CV-734 (E.D. Wis. filed May 11, 2018), nutritional supplement manufacturer Lake Country Foods, Inc., (“LCF”) filed an insurance coverage complaint seeking to enforce its rights under a product contamination policy issued by Houston Casualty Company (“HCC”) arising from a salmonella contamination incident. In the October Recall Roundup, Ahmad and Fehling discuss the potential impact that the insurer’s counterclaims seeking reimbursement of the approximately $1.2 million advance payment it made in response to the alleged salmonella contamination incident might have on the pending insurance recovery dispute.
Hunton insurance attorneys Syed Ahmad and Patrick McDermott recently wrote a chapter on insurance law in the District of Columbia to the newest edition of the District of Columbia Practice Manual. The chapter of the Practice Manual, in its 26th edition, is available here and now covers topics including the duties to defend and indemnify, insurers’ defenses to coverage, allocation issues, bad faith, policy interpretation principles, and coverage for cyber events.
Hunton insurance recovery partner Syed Ahmad was recently asked by Insurance Law360 to opine concerning key insurance issues that are pending before the Wisconsin Supreme Court and ripe for decision this fall. In the article, which can be found here, Ahmad notes with respect to the case of Secura Insurance v. Ray Duerr Logging LLC, case number 2016AP299, concerning whether damage tied to a wildfire constitutes one or multiple occurrences for coverage purposes, the Court of Appeals did a good job of focusing on the particulars of the claim at hand and not superficially relying on abstract labels like “cause test” or “effects test,” that are not all that illuminating, explaining that what one party characterizes as the “cause” of a loss can often be what another party deems to be “effect” resulting in the loss.
Hunton insurance recovery partner, Syed Ahmad, was recently asked to comment by Law360 on a Delaware Superior Court decision finding that state law does not preclude D&O insurance coverage for fraud-based claims against two Dole Food Co. executives, who are seeking to force several excess insurers to help pay for $222 million in settlements they reached to resolve stockholder suits accusing them of driving down Dole’s price before a 2013 take-private deal. According the Ahmad, the ruling is likely to carry strong precedential effect due to the solid reasoning of the court’s decision, which is premised on the Delaware Supreme Court’s 1986 decision in Whalen v. On-Deck Inc., which upheld the availability of coverage for punitive damages under Delaware law.
In an article recently featured on The D&O Diary, Hunton & Williams insurance lawyers Syed Ahmad, Brittany Davidson, and Andrea DeField discuss a recent New York trial court’s award of an injunction requiring D&O insurers to advance defense costs to their insured pending resolution of the underlying lawsuits. The full article can be found here.
In an article recently featured in FC&S Legal, Hunton & Williams insurance lawyers Syed Ahmad and Patrick McDermott discuss ways to guard against waiver of the attorney-client privilege when cooperating with insurers providing Representations & Warranties insurance coverage. The full article can be found here.
In a recent article published in Internet Retailer, Syed Ahmad, Lorelie (Lorie) Masters, and Katie Miller discuss the risks retailers face when using smartphone-reliant technology and contactless payment systems, including ransomware attacks and other security breaches, and the insurance coverage necessary to address these potential risks.
Hunton & Williams insurance partner, Syed Ahmad, was quoted twice in Law360 concerning significant insurance cases to watch in 2018. On January 1, 2018, Ahmad noted that Pitzer College v. Indian Harbor Insurance Co., pending in the California Supreme Court, “can be significant for coverage disputes in California because the California rule could override the law of the state that would apply otherwise, even if the parties agreed to another state’s law governing,” On January 9, 2018, Ahmad was again asked by Law360 to comment on key D&O cases that will likely be decided in 2018. Ahmad noted that in Patriarch Partners LLC v. Axis Insurance Co., pending in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, Patriarch’s appeal presents an unusual situation in which a policyholder is arguing that various developments in an ongoing SEC investigation don’t constitute a claim under a D&O policy, in order to avoid the application of an exclusion. In other circumstances, it may be favorable for a policyholder to assert that a preliminary step in an SEC probe is a claim, so as to maximize coverage. According to Ahmad, the district court didn’t fully address how, in the context of the specific policy language at issue, a non-public order by the SEC could qualify as a claim. “As Patriarch argues, ‘until an agency makes a demand upon the target under legal compulsion, there may be no way for a policyholder to even know that it is being investigated, that an order authorizing investigation has been issued against it or what the order of investigation says,'” Ahmad said, quoting from Patriarch’s appellate brief.
In Centurion Med. Liab. Protective Risk Retention Grp., Inc. v. Gonzalez, No. CV 17-01581 RGK (JCx), 2017 BL 392431 (C.D. Cal. Nov. 1, 2017), Centurion Medical Liability Protective Risk Retention Group sought a declaration that it owed no duty to defend a lawsuit alleging that its insureds—a group of medical practitioners—committed professional negligence during the delivery of a newborn child. Centurion argued that it had no defense obligation because its insureds did not notify Centurion of the lawsuit within 20 days after it was filed, as required under the policy.
Earlier this week, Canada’s transport minister announced that a drone had collided with a commercial aircraft, the first confirmed collision of its kind in North America. Thankfully, the aircraft sustained only minor damage and was able to land safely. But this recent incident, which many commentators believed was inevitable given the proliferation of consumer and commercial drones, highlights the potential risks associated with drone operations.