SAN FRANCISCO - Even though an employee was tricked into transferring funds to a criminal because of fraudulent, spoofed emails, a Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on April 17 found that the direct cause of a seafood company's loss was the authorized employee's action, thus precluding coverage for the loss under the computer fraud provision of a commercial crime insurance policy (Aqua Star [USA] Corp. v. Travelers Casualty and Surety Company of America, No. 16-35614, 9th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 9660).
ATLANTA - Commercial general liability insurers have a duty to defend allegations that an insured improperly constructed on land without taking reasonable steps to implement a workable drainage system, the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals held Feb. 13, reversing and remanding the entry of summary judgment to the insurers (Mid-Continent Casualty Co., et al. v. Adams Homes of Northwest Florida Inc., et al., No. 17-12660, 11th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 3538).
HARRISBURG, Pa. - A commercial general liability insurer has a duty to defend and indemnify an insured subcontractor against a contractor's claims of negligent installation, the Pennsylvania Superior Court affirmed Feb. 9 (J.J.D. Urethane Co. v. Westfield Insurance Co., et al., Nos. 1440 EDA 2017 & 1554 EDA 2017, Pa. Super., 2018 Pa. Super. Unpub. LEXIS 396).
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - Two expert witnesses for the U.S. government can testify about sex trafficking and the prostitution trade in a criminal case against a man and his female accomplice accused of forcing a 13-year-old girl to engage in commercial sex acts, a New Mexico federal judge ruled Feb. 8 after finding that both experts meet all requirements of Federal Rule of Evidence 702, Fed. R. Evid. 702 (United States of America v. Cordny Henry, No. 16-cr-1097, D. N.M., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 20896).
PORTLAND, Ore. - The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Feb. 1 affirmed a lower court's denial of a commercial general liability insurer's motion to compel arbitration of a coverage dispute over an underlying defamation counterclaim brought against an insured, finding that the policy's arbitration clause was invalid under Washington law (Technical Security Integration, Inc. v. Philadelphia Indemnity Insurance Company, No. 15-35683, 9th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 2574).
ST. LOUIS - The Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Jan. 26 affirmed a lower federal court's finding that a commercial general liability insurance policy's "particular part" exclusion bars coverage for the damage an insured allegedly caused to an electrical transformer while working on it (Electric Power Systems International, Inc. v. Zurich American Insurance Company, No. 16-3927, 8th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 1953).
ST. LOUIS - The Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Jan. 29 affirmed a lower federal court's ruling in favor of a commercial general liability insurer in a coverage dispute arising from the contamination of landscaping materials with plastic from defective storage bags that were manufactured by the insured (Decker Plastics v. West Bend Mutual Insurance Co., No.17-1319, 8th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 2085).
HARRISBURG, Pa. - A federal judge in Pennsylvania on Jan. 24 ruled that the government adequately alleges that a man should face charges of mail fraud, conspiracy to commit mail fraud and conspiracy to defraud the United States as a result of his role in a scheme to illegally obtain insurance for buses that were part of a commercial transportation company (United States of America v. Yalin Liu, No. 16cr42, M.D. Pa., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 11243).
MOBILE, Ala. - An Alabama federal judge on Jan. 24 found that if an insured has a valid fraud claim to assert against an underlying claimant, it should do so in the pending state court lawsuit rather than via a cross-claim brought in its commercial general liability insurer's ancillary declaratory judgment action (Acadia Insurance Co. v. SouthernPointe Group, Inc., et al., No. 17-01368, N.D. Ala., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 11054).
DENVER - Ruling on dueling motions for summary judgment in a breach of contract and bad faith dispute, a Colorado federal judge on Jan. 23 found that a list of stolen property satisfies a retail coin and collectible store owner's obligations under the plain language of a commercial property insurance policy (TBL Collectibles, Inc., d/b/a Colorado Coins, Cards & Comics v. Owners Insurance Co., No. 16-01788, D. Colo., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 10538).
CHICAGO - An Illinois appeals panel on Jan. 22 affirmed a lower court's ruling that a commercial general liability insurer has no obligation to reimburse its insured for more than $16,000 in independent counsel fees incurred in an underlying copyright infringement dispute, rejecting the insured's contention that a conflict of interest entitled it to independent counsel (Bean Products, Inc. v. Scottsdale Insurance Co., No. 1-17-0421, Ill. App., 1st Dist., Div. 1, 2018 Ill. App. Unpub. LEXIS 89).
PITTSBURGH - Blank Rome on Jan. 18 announced that a new partner has joined its commercial litigation group in Pittsburgh.
LOS ANGELES - A judge erroneously required a company to prove that it had a federal defense, rather than just a colorable one, and improperly focused on the fact that asbestos-containing insulation was commercially available rather than the fact that it was applied to a military nuclear propulsion prototype, CBS Corp. told the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals Jan. 16 (Wayne Yocum, et al. v. CBS Corp., et al., No. 17-56344, 9th Cir.).
ASHEVILLE, N.C. - Citing overlapping issues with an underlying state court declaratory judgment action, a North Carolina federal judge on Jan. 12 dismissed a coverage dispute between commercial general liability insurers with regard to a duty to defend a mutual insured and additional insureds in construction defects cases (Hartford Fire Insurance Co. v. Employers Mutual Casualty Co., et al., No. 17-253, W.D. N.C., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 5655).
SAN FRANCISCO - The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Jan. 12 rejected appellants' argument that whether the injuries they suffered were the result of an "assault and battery" under a commercial general liability insurance policy is a question of fact for a jury, affirming a lower court's ruling in favor of the insurer (The Burlington Insurance Company v. Rosa De La Puente, et al., Nos. 16-16899 and 16-16986, 9th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 891).
SAN JOSE, Calif. - Ruling on dueling summary judgment motions in an insurer's lawsuit seeking equitable contribution from a second insurer, a California federal judge on Jan. 9 found that two underlying lawsuits against Narconon International and its affiliates triggered commercial general liability and improper sexual conduct coverage and, therefore, the second insurer also has a duty to defend (Western World Insurance Company v. Nonprofits Insurance Alliance of California, No. 14-04466, N.D. Calif., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 4720).
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A commercial general liability insurance policy excludes coverage for an insured's underlying construction defects lawsuits arising out of stucco damage, the insurer says in a Jan. 10 complaint filed in a Florida federal court (Auto-Owners Insurance Co. v. Kis Construction LLC, et al., No. 18-00086, M.D. Fla.).
SAN JOSE, Calif. - A commercial general liability (CGL) insurer on Jan. 4 moved for summary judgment in California federal court in a coverage dispute with Yahoo! Inc., arguing that its duty to indemnify was never triggered in underlying privacy lawsuits over the internet firm's former email-scanning practices because no damages award was levied against Yahoo (Yahoo! Inc. v. National Union Fire Insurance Company of Pittsburgh, Pa., No. 5:17-cv-00489, N.D. Calif.).
LOS ANGELES - Although a defendant's law firm did not comply with its ethical duty to notify the plaintiff upon its receipt of privileged materials, a California appeals panel on Jan. 4 found that a trial court referee did not err in declining to disqualify the firm because the plaintiff was not greatly damaged by the material's disclosure (1100 Wilshire Property Owners Association v. 1100 Wilshire Commercial LLC, No. B281127, Calif. App., 2nd Dist., 2018 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 100).
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - A Florida Statutes Chapter 558 proceeding for resolving construction defect disputes prior to litigation constitutes a "suit" under commercial general liability insurance policies that may trigger a duty to defend provided that an insurer consents to an insured's participation, a majority of the Florida Supreme Court held Dec. 14 (Altman Contractors Inc. v. Crum & Forster Specialty Insurance Co., No. SC16-1420, Fla. Sup., 2017 Fla. LEXIS 2492).
MISSOULA, Mont. - On remand from the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, a Montana federal judge on Dec. 4 granted in part and denied in part a commercial general liability insurer's motions in limine in a coverage dispute over claims that a beauty school insured expelled students after they filed complaints of unprofessional conduct, sexual harassment, occupational health and safety, violations of internal policies and procedures, licensing rules and regulations and curriculum (Breanne Walden, et al. v. Maryland Casualty Co., No. 13-222, D. Mont., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 198973).