NEW YORK - Insurers on March 23 filed a new complaint against Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and/or the Saudi High Commission for Relief of Bosnia & Herzegovina (SHC) in a federal district court, contending that facts and related evidence presented by victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks have taken on additional significance as a result of the U.S. Congress' enactment of the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA) this past September (Underwriters Inc., et al. v. Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, et al., No. 17-02129, S.D. N.Y.).
HARRISBURG, Pa. - An appeals court panel in Pennsylvania on March 23 affirmed a woman's conviction and sentencing for insurance fraud, finding that she waived her argument challenging the sufficiency of the evidence that was presented during trial (Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Emma Comer, No. 1520 MDA 2016, Penn. Super., 2017 Pa. Super. Unpub. LEXIS 1100).
UTICA, N.Y. - A federal magistrate judge in New York on March 27 ordered parties to a reinsurance dispute to meet for a settlement conference with the magistrate judge (Utica Mutual Insurance Company v. Fireman's Fund Insurance Company, No. 09-cv-00853, N.D. N.Y.).
HOUSTON - A Texas federal judge on March 23 found that an insurance policy's property damage exclusion does not bar directors and officers and entity liability coverage for at least two underlying claims against a homeowners association insured stemming from Hurricane Ike damage (The Landing Council of Co-Owners v. Federal Insurance Co., No. 15-1902, S.D. Texas, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 42087).
NEW ORLEANS - A majority of the Louisiana Supreme Court refused to reconsider an appeals court's affirmation of a lower court's finding that a doctor breached the standard of care applicable to an obstetrician and gynecologist in failing to obtain a patient's informed consent before performing surgery, according to a March 24 news release (Renea Fanguy v. Lexington Insurance Co., et al., No. 2017-C-0195, La. Sup.)
CHICAGO - A federal judge in Illinois dismissed without prejudice claims from a man that his former employer falsely billed Medicare, Medicaid and other private insurers for endovascular laser therapy (EVLT) procedures that were not medically necessary or done with reused laser fibers, finding that the allegations were not made with the required level of specificity to support his False Claims Act (FCA) allegations (United States of America, ex rel. Constantine Zverev, et al. v. USA Vein Clinics of Chicago, LLC, et al., No. 12 CV 8004, N.D. Ill., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 43807).
BOSTON - The First Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on March 24 determined that a disability insurer acted arbitrarily and capriciously by relying on a job description of a generic "lawyer" rather than a job description of a specialized "environmental lawyer" when it determined the onset date of a claimant's disability (Jane Doe v. Standard Insurance Co., No. 16-2085, 1st Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 5232).
SAN ANTONIO - An expert is qualified to testify on independent marketing organizations (IMOs) in the insurance industry and regarding an IMO's "compliance or lack of compliance with industry standards," a Texas federal magistrate judge ruled March 24 (Wealthmark Advisors Inc. and David Shields v. Phoenix Life Insurance Co. and PHL Variable Insurance Co., No. 16-00485, W.D. Texas, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 42978).
PHOENIX - Dismissal of an insurer's suit seeking a coverage declaration for an underlying state court lawsuit alleging personal injury claims caused by pigeon droppings is appropriate because the insureds entered into an agreement with the underlying plaintiff and the insurer withdrew its reservation of rights, an Arizona federal judge said March 22 in granting the insureds' motion to dismiss (American Family Mutual Insurance Co. v. Scottsdale Casitas Condominium Association, et al., No. 16-2289, D. Ariz., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 42343).
EVANSVILLE, Ind. - An Indiana federal judge on March 22 ruled in favor of an excess insurer in a manufacturer insured's breach of contract and bad faith lawsuit seeking coverage for an underlying lawsuit alleging claims for breach of contract, breach of express warranty, breach of implied warranty of fitness for a particular purpose, breach of implied warranty of merchantability and negligence (Berry Plastics Corporation v. Illinois National Insurance Co., No. 15-00170, S.D. Ind., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 41546).
BLUEFIELD, W.Va. - A West Virginia federal judge on March 23 refused to dismiss an insurer's declaratory judgment lawsuit challenging coverage for a lawsuit alleging that the insured's employee filed fraudulent tax returns, finding that the factors weigh in favor of the federal court retaining jurisdiction (Ohio Security Insurance Co. v. K R Enterprises, Inc., et al., No. 15-16264, S.D. W.Va., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 42011).
CLEVELAND - An Ohio appeals court on March 23 affirmed a man's conviction for three counts of aggravated arson and one count of insurance fraud after overruling the defendant's argument that he was prejudiced by grand jury proceedings that involved the use of a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) agent who later found that the cause of the fire was undetermined and that the evidence presented during trial sufficiently supported the jury's finding (State of Ohio v. Dale Rodano, No. 104176, Ohio App., 8th Dist., 2017 Ohio App. LEXIS 1009).
CINCINNATI - A disability insurer's decision to terminate a claimant's long-term disability benefits is supported by the medical evidence, the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals said March 22, agreeing with a district court's finding that the claimant failed to show that his depression prevented him from performing the duties of his occupation (Les A. Gilewski v. Provident Life and Accident Insurance Co., No. 16-2028, 6th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 5240).
PHILADELPHIA - A homeowner's insurer paid the entire amount it owed to insureds for damage to their home because the insureds failed to offer expert reports to rebut the insurer's evidence that the unpaid portions were not covered, a Pennsylvania federal judge ruled March 22, granting summary judgment to the insurer on a breach of contract claim (Scot Fazio and Dawn Fazio v. State Farm Fire and Casualty Co., No. 16-1987, E.D. Pa., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 41604).
WILMINGTON, Del. - The Delaware Supreme Court on March 23 determined that the law of New York should be applied in a dispute over the allocation of environmental contamination claims because New York has the most significant relationship with the parties and applying the law of the state in which an environmental cleanup site is located, as proposed by the lower court, would result in an inconsistent application of a policy's contract language (Chemtura Corp. v. Certain Underwriters at CCLC Lloyd's, et al., No. 371, 2016, Del. Sup., 2017 Del. LEXIS 127).
NEW ORLEANS - The Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on March 24 denied an architect's appeal seeking to reverse a ruling in favor of a home builder's insurer in a breach of contract dispute arising from an underlying $63,471,000 copyright infringement dispute, rejecting the architect's argument that an unobjected-to proof of claim in a bankruptcy case should be allowed and should become a final judgment when the bankruptcy case is closed (Kipp Flores Architects, LLC v. Mid-Continent Casualty Co., No. 16-20255, 5th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 5241).
CHICAGO - The liquidator of a pair of insolvent insurers told a federal court in Illinois on March 22 that the claims she brings against a mortgage insurance reinsurer are sufficient to survive a motion to dismiss (People of the State of Illinois, ex rel., Acting Director of Insurance, Anne Melissa Dowling v. HMC Reinsurance Company, a Vermont Corporation, No. 16-cv-08156, N.D. Ill.).
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - An Alabama federal judge on March 21 held that federal flood insurer does not owe coverage for an insured's claim for land and relocation damages arising from a heavy rain that caused a local river to flood (Crawford Nixon v. Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co., No. 15-00186, N.D. Ala., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 40239).
BOSTON - Three subcontractors owe a defense to a general contractor against negligence and breach of the implied warranties of habitability and good workmanship claims brought by a subrogated insurer for water damage in a condominium building, a Massachusetts federal judge ruled March 22 (Philadelphia Indemnity Insurance Co. v. Consigli Construction Company Inc., et al. v. Central Ceilings Inc., No. 14-14687, D. Mass., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 41444).
CHICAGO - An Illinois judge on March 22 sustained an insurance guaranty association's objection, finding that an insolvent insurer's special deposit cannot be used to pay the guaranty association's general administrative expenses (People of the State of Illinois, ex rel. Andrew Boron, Director of Insurance of the State of Illinois v. Lumbermens Mutual Casualty Co., No. 12-24227, Ill. Cir., Cook Co.).
SAN DIEGO - An insurer is entitled to $37,000 in restitution from a man who pleaded guilty to misrepresenting to the company that nurses he sent to work at skilled-nursing facilities were computer programmers to obtain a lower workers' compensation policy premium, a California appeals panel ruled March 22 in affirming the man's conviction (People v. John Paul Riddles, No. D069419, Calif. App., 4th Dist., 1st Div., 2017 Calif. App. LEXIS 259).
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - A disability insurer's reliance on a claimant's attendance requirements for a doctoral degree program was properly considered by the insurer when it terminated the claimant's long-term disability benefits on the basis that the claimant was not disabled from performing "any gainful occupation," a Michigan federal judge said March 21 in granting the insurer's motion for judgment on the administrative record (Sherri Black v. Metropolitan Life Insurance Co., No. 15-1147, W.D. Mich., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 40168).
BALTIMORE - A Maryland federal judge on March 22 denied an underlying plaintiff's motion for a temporary restraining order seeking to ban an insurer and its insured from reaching a settlement for an underlying judgment awarded for personal injuries in a lead paint exposure suit (CX Reinsurance Co. Ltd., v. Benjamin L. Kirson, et al., No. 15-3132, D. Md., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 41230).
MIAMI - A Florida appeals panel on March 22 held that an insured's post-appraisal submission of increased costs in a Hurricane Wilma coverage dispute is not a legally sufficient basis to reopen the existing appraisal or conduct a new appraisal (Orlando Noa v. Florida Insurance Guaranty Association, No. 3D16-1367, Fla. App., 3rd Dist., 2017 Fla. App. LEXIS 3787).
PASADENA, Calif. - The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on March 21 dismissed an insured's appeal in an advertising injury coverage dispute after a lower federal court determined on remand that it lacked subject matter jurisdiction over the case (Vogue International, LLC, d.b.a. Vogue International v. Hartford Casualty Insurance Co., No. 14-56394, 9th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 5011).