New York Court Holds Claimants Had No Standing to Sue Professional Liability Insurer

In its recent decision in Commonwealth Land Title Ins Co. v. American Signature Services, Inc ., 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 22172 (E.D.N.Y. Feb. 20, 2014), [ enhanced version available to lexis.com subscribers ], the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York had occasion to consider...

Alice In Wonderland Provides Proof That The Legal System Makes No Sense

Last month, Justice Don Willett dissented from the Texas Supreme Court’s denial of a petition for review in El-Ali v. State [ enhanced version available to lexis.com subscribers ]. The case involved the Texas civil forfeiture statute. In doing so, Justice Willett observed that “[a] generation...

Appeals Court: You Can Knock Your Wife’s Lover Unconscious At A Urinal And Get Coverage

Back in the January 8th issue of Coverage Opinions I mentioned a coverage case involving two guys fighting at a urinal in a bar. Mercury Casualty Co. v. Noll (Cal. Ct. App. Sept. 26, 2013) [ enhanced version available to lexis.com subscribers ]. Well here’s another recent one in the urinal fighting...

Louisiana Court Holds that “Coconut Throwing” Endorsement Does Not Bar Coverage for Mardis Gras Float

By Andrew May , Associate, Neal, Gerber & Eisenberg LLP In Faith Brooks v. Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club, Inc ., 110 So.3d 703 (La. Ct. App. 2013), [ enhanced version available to lexis.com subscribers ], the Louisiana Court of Appeal held that the trial court improperly granted summary...

Noticeable Confusion - "Claims Made" Policies, Late Notice, And When Your Insurer Must Prove Prejudice To Avoid Coverage

By John E. Heintz, John A. Gibbons, and Omid Safa An adverse claim is an unwelcome surprise to any business, particularly those unaccustomed to being sued. A lawsuit is unsettling and brings with it a litany of pressing litigation concerns, which compound the already significant day-to-day burdens...

Insurance Adjuster Goes Wild

I take my work seriously. And so do you. But sometimes people can just go over the top in attempting to accomplish something on the job. Such was allegedly the case in Robinson v. Affirmative Insurance Holdings, Inc., No. 12-2159 (N.D. Ala. Mar. 27, 2014), [ enhanced version available to lexis.com subscribers...

Troutman Sanders Wins Insurance Coverage Dispute in California Federal Court Proving that Crime Really Doesn’t Pay

By Eileen King Bower Troutman Sanders recently obtained summary judgment on behalf of Continental Casualty Company in an insurance coverage dispute in the Northern District of California, [ enhanced version available to lexis.com subscribers ]. In this case, the plaintiff, a court-appointed receiver...

West Virginia Supreme Court Insurance Coverage Ruling Could Apply to Asbestos Cases

By James J. A. Mulhall The West Virginia Supreme Court [ enhanced version available to lexis.com subscribers ] has held that a trial court’s decision on a forum non conveniens motion will only be overturned if there was an abuse of discretion. The recent case involved alleged occupational...

California Court Denies Summary Judgment on Known Conditions Exclusion

In its recent decision in Lennar Mare Island v. Steadfast Ins. Co ., 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 26405, [ enhanced version available to lexis.com subscribers ], the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California had occasion to consider the relationship between a fixed site pollution liability...

OMG: The Strangest Pollution Exclusion Case You Have Ever Seen

[While Coverage Opinions likes to kid around, the following summary involves a real case. You can look it up. 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 59278] I have been a student of the pollution exclusion for many years. I can’t even begin to imagine how many pollution exclusion cases I have read. I recently...

Don’t Let a Viable Defendant Walk Free

I have many times in this space cautioned against giving up the ability to sue and collect from a viable defendant with assets to seek damages from an insurer. In Jennifer A. Stephens, as Personal Representative of the Estate of Charles Eugene Becker and as Assignee of Anchorage Homes, LLC, Plaintiff...

West Virginia Reviews Attorney-Client Privilege in Insurer/Coverage Counsel Extra-Contractual Claims

By Mark G. Jeffries, Associate On April 10, 2014, the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals held in State ex rel. Montpelier U.S. Ins. Co. and Charleston, Revich & Wollitz LLP that the attorney-client privilege protects confidential communications between an insurer and its coverage counsel...

I See Dead People Causing Coverage Disputes

Look, it’s not pleasant, but when you are involved in liability claims you will be forced to confront scenarios involving death. It’s simply the nature of the beast. Liability insurance claims are, by their nature, all about when things go wrong. And when things go wrong – really wrong...

Pennsylvania Superior Court Opens Door to Coverage of Faulty Workmanship Claims

By Darin J. McMullen Pennsylvania policyholders can more confidently challenge insurance companies' denials of faulty workmanship claims following the Pennsylvania Superior Court's recent opinion in Indalex Inc. v. National Union Fire Ins. Co. of Pittsburgh, PA, 2013 Pa. Super 311 (Dec...

Insurance Coverage for Wage and Hour Claims

By David A. Gauntlett, Principal, Gauntlett & Associates Litigation contending wage and hour law violations has escalated rapidly in recent years. Virtually every business, especially those in California, is susceptible to claims by an increasingly vigorous plaintiff’s bar, including...

Federal Court Answers The Question : “What Is A ‘Commercial General Liability Insurance’ Policy?”

The issue before the Southern District of Texas in Pac-Van, Inc. v. CHS, Inc., No. 12-341 (S.D. Tex. Mar. 31, 2014) [ enhanced version available to lexis.com subscribers ] -- just what is a commercial general liability insurance policy anyway -- isn’t likely to arise too often. Since this may be...

Punitive Damages: Insurable In 38 States – The Sometimes Oversimplified Issue

It is a question that is uttered by claims professionals and coverage counsel on a regular basis: Are punitive damages insurable in such and such state? In essence, what the questioner is often asking is whether the particular state’s public policy permits a tortfeasor to insure against punitive...

Chickens And Eggs: What Comes First – Underlying Case Or Coverage Case?

It is one of the most frequently occurring and important issues on the coverage landscape. Yet, for some reason, guidance can sometimes be unclear, inconsistent or just plain elusive. Here is the scenario. An insurer is defending its insured in an underlying action under a reservation of rights. Uncertainty...

Construction Defects and the Space Between: Gap and Overlap In the Combined Coverage of Performance Bonds and CGL Policies for Construction Defects

By Thomas Rush and David A. Attisani Among other harbingers of a gradually convalescing economy, construction activity is on the rise, and is projected to remain on that trajectory throughout 2014. As a consequence of such growth, there will also be an increase in construction-related loss and...

Effect of “Assault & Battery” Exclusion: Entire Policy Must Be Read to Interpret Policy

Insurance policies, contrary to the belief of some members of the plaintiffs’ bar, are nothing more than a contract that needs to be interpreted like any other contract. In so doing the entire contract must be read to determine the intent of the parties to the contract. In Certain Interested...

Pet Insurance Bill Provides Important Consumer Protection For Rapidly Growing Market

Pet insurance industry to reach $750 million by 2015 as Americans increase spending on veterinary care. Within California's economy, the pet insurance market is rapidly growing and expected to reach $750 million by next year. AB 2056 (Matt Dababneh), [ enhanced version available to lexis.com...

You Won’t Believe This Case -- I Did Not Make This Up. Really!

Imagine this scenario for a second. A man is having marital problems. So he takes the not unreasonable step of visiting his priest to seek guidance. Unbeknownst to the man, however, the priest has been having an intimate relationship with the man’s wife. The priest fails to mention this detail...

Federal Court Lists 10 Requirements For A Reservation Of Rights Letter

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” William Shakespeare, “Romeo and Juliet,” Act II, Scene 2. [Well, actually, Wikipedia.] But the same cannot be said of reservation of rights letters. In fact, just the opposite. A letter...

A Dog Bite Coverage Case Gets To A Supreme Court

I love dogs. I love coverage cases. So do the math -- I love dog bite coverage cases. On one hand, I’m glad that there are so many of them. On the other hand, a lot of dog bite coverage cases can mean only one thing -- there are a lot of dog bites. And that’s not a good thing. So it’s...

State Farm’s Relentless Pursuit to Deny Coverage for TCPA Cases

As policyholder lawyers, one can usually count on a few basic mistakes that insurers will make. First, they wrongfully deny coverage and fail to defend. They abandon their insured who is then left to its own devices to protect itself. The policyholder enters into a consent judgment or settlement with...