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).
PHILADELPHIA - A Pennsylvania judge found that a lower court erred in finding that a commercial umbrella liability insurer has no duty to indemnify its insured against $2.6 million in punitive damages that it paid to settle an underlying wrongful death and survival action, vacating and remanding for an entry of summary judgment in favor of the insured on the breach of contract claim and for reinstatement and further proceedings on the bad faith claim (Bensalem Racing Association, Inc., et al. v. Ace Property and Casualty Insurance Co., No. 530 EDA 2017, Pa. Super.).
AUSTIN, Texas - The Texas Supreme Court on Dec. 1 refused to rehear petitions to review a lower court's ruling that a trial court erred in finding two commercial general liability insurers are jointly and severally liable for a $2.4 million construction defects arbitration award despite both having a duty to indemnify (Great American Lloyds Insurance Co. and Mid-Continent Casualty Co. v. Vines-Herrin Custom LLC, et al., No. 16-0795, Texas Sup.; 2017 Tex. LEXIS 1089).
ATLANTA - A homeowner's negligence claims arising out of an insured contractor's faulty workmanship are not covered under a commercial general liability insurance policy, a Georgia federal judge ruled Nov. 17, granting summary judgment to an insurer (Allstate Insurance Co. v. Adrianna Luu, et al., No. 17-312, N.D. Ga., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 190983).
OKLAHOMA CITY - An insurance company must provide coverage for two contractors under two commercial general liability policies because the language in the policies does not exclude coverage for their work as home builders rather than as roofers, a federal judge in Oklahoma ruled Nov. 9 in denying the insurer's motion for summary judgment (James River Insurance Company v. 5 Star Integrity Roofing & Exteriors, LLC, et al., No. CIV-16-950-M, W.D. Okla., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 185945).
DETROIT - Finding that tenants' use of an insured's commercial property units to grow marijuana was illegal or at the very least dishonest, a Michigan federal judge on Nov. 8 held that coverage for the insured's losses arising from this activity is barred by an insurance policy's illegal/dishonest acts provision, as well as two other policy exclusions (K.V.G. Properties Inc. v. Westfield Insurance Co., No. 16-11561, E.D. Mich., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 185005).
SANTA ANA, Calif. - A California appeals panel on Nov. 6 affirmed a lower court's finding that commercial general liability insurers have no duty to defend pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors against two underling lawsuits alleging that they engaged in a fraudulent scheme to promote the use of opioids for long-term pain to increase corporate profits, finding that the underlying actions can be read only as being based on the insureds' deliberate and intentional conduct that produced injuries that were neither unexpected nor unforeseen (The Traveler's Property Casualty Company of America, et al. v. Actavis Inc., et al., No. G053749, Calif. App., 4th Dist., Div. 3, 2017 Cal. App. LEXIS 976).
NEW ORLEANS - A Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Nov. 7 affirmed a federal judge in Louisiana's ruling requiring a commercial barge company to reimburse the government for $20 million in cleanup costs it incurred following a July 2008 oil spill that occurred in the Mississippi River, finding that the defendant company was not entitled to a defense under the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA) (United States of America v. American Commercial Lines, LLC, No. 16-31150, 5th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 22260).
CONCORD, N.H. - A commercial general liability insurer has no duty to defend an insured in an underlying breach of contract lawsuit seeking damages only for uncovered defective workmanship, a New Hampshire federal judge ruled Oct. 24 (Patriot Insurance Co. v. Holmes Carpet Center LLC, et al., No. 17-73, D. N.H., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 175643).
ATLANTA - The 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Oct. 19 held that a commercial general liability insurance policy's professional services exclusion bars coverage for an underlying wrongful death lawsuit alleging that the insured negligently designed and constructed the intersection where a fatal accident occurred (Witkin Design Group, Inc. v. Travelers Property Casualty Company of America, No. 17-10478, 11th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 20431).
ORLANDO, Fla. - In an Oct. 12 brief in Florida federal court, a commercial general liability insurer opposes a motion for judgment as to its duty to defend in a data breach coverage dispute, arguing that the hotel that experienced the breach, which is claiming resulting losses, is not an insured under the policy (St. Paul Fire & Marine Insurance Co. v. Rosen Millennium Inc., No. 6:17-cv-00540, M.D. Fla.).
WAUSAU, Wis. - A Wisconsin appeals panel on Oct. 11 affirmed a lower court's ruling that a commercial general liability insurance policy's $2 million aggregate limit applied in a coverage dispute over a forest fire that burned thousands of acres of land, but reversed and remanded for a factual determination on the issue of damages relevant to coverage under the logging company's umbrella insurance policy (Secura Insurance v. Lyme St. Croix Forest Company, LLC, et al., No. 2016AP299, Wis. App., Div. 3, 2017 Wisc. App. LEXIS 791).
FORT MYERS, Fla. - A commercial general liability insurer filed its declaratory judgment action on its duty to indemnify an underlying construction defects case prematurely, a Florida federal judge ruled Oct. 5, dismissing the case (Mid-Continent Casualty Co. v. G.R. Construction Management Inc., et al., No. 17-55, M.D. Fla., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 165245).
PHILADELPHIA - A commercial general liability insurer did not breach its insurance contract nor did it act in bad faith in denying a claim, a Pennsylvania federal judge ruled Sept. 29 because "deleterious substances" exclusion precluded coverage for grout dust from construction work that led to property damage (Collin R. Ginther v. Preferred Contractors Insurance Company Risk Retention Group LLC, No. 16-686, E.D. Pa., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 161720).
HOUSTON - A Texas federal judge on Sept. 13 found that an underlying lawsuit alleging that an insured failed to timely negotiate a commercial lease agreement triggered an insurer's duty to defend, granting the insured's motion for summary judgment in a coverage dispute (2200 West Alabama, Inc v. Western World Insurance Co., No. 16-2244, S.D. Texas, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 148492).
WICHITA, Kan. - An insured seeking coverage for hailstorm damage to two commercial buildings is permitted to amend its complaint to add claims for breach of contract and bad faith because the addition of the claims would not be futile and the insurers will not be prejudiced as a result of the amendment, a Kansas federal judge said Sept. 8 (Flex Financial Holding Co. v. OneBeacon Insurance Group LLC et al., No. 15-7205, D. Kan., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 145349).