Insurance Law

Siblings Who Hate Each Other and Insurance Coverage

Tapas: Small Dishes of Insurance Coverage News & Notes

In Peerless Indem. Ins. Co. v. Moshe & Stimson LLP, 2014 Ind. App. LEXIS 642 (Ind. Ct. App. Dec. 30, 2014), [enhanced version available to lexis.com subscribers], the court held that no coverage was owed to a law partner, under a liability policy, for a claim that he defamed his law partner – who also happened to be his sister. [Can you imagine Thanksgiving dinner. Pass the stuffing. *&%$#@.] The appeals court concluded that the employment practices exclusion precluded coverage.

The trial court had determined that the exclusion did not apply, because the suit did not involve employer-employee conduct, since one partner is not the employee of the other. The appeals court disagreed: “[W]e need not determine in what capacity Sarah was employed by the firm. Instead, the issue is whether Justin’s alleged actions, particularly his alleged defamation of his sister, were ‘employment-related.’” The court concluded that they were and, therefore, the employment practices exclusion precluded coverage.

Coverage Opinions is a bi-weekly (or more frequently) electronic newsletter reporting or providing commentary on just-issued decisions from courts nationally addressing insurance coverage disputes. Coverage Opinions focuses on decisions that concern numerous issues under commercial general liability and professional liability insurance policies. For more information visit www.coverageopinions.info.

The views expressed herein are solely those of the author and not necessarily those of his firm or its clients. The information contained herein shall not be considered legal advice. You are advised to consult with an attorney concerning how any of the issues addressed herein may apply to your own situation. Coverage Opinions is gluten free but may contain peanut products.

    Randy Maniloff is Counsel at White and Williams, LLP in Philadelphia. He previously served as a firm Partner for seven years and transitioned to a Counsel position to pursue certain writing projects including Coverage Opinions . Nonetheless he still maintains a full-time practice at the firm. Randy concentrates his practice in the representation of insurers in coverage disputes over primary and excess obligations under a host of policies, including commercial general liability and various professional liability policies, such as public official’s, law enforcement, educator’s, media, computer technology, architects and engineers, lawyers, real estate agents, community associations, environmental contractors, Indian tribes and several others. Randy has significant experience in coverage for environmental damage and toxic torts, liquor liability and construction defect, including additional insured and contractual indemnity issues. Randy is co-author of “General Liability Insurance Coverage - Key Issues In Every State” (Oxford University Press, 2nd Edition, 2012). For the past twelve years Randy has published a year-end article that addresses the ten most significant insurance coverage decisions of the year completed.

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