EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. - An Illinois federal judge on April 19 found that a homeowners insurance policy's "business pursuits" and "civic or public activities performed for pay" exclusions bar coverage for underlying defamation and false light claims brought against its insured, declaring that the insurer has no duty to defend or indemnify its insured (Patricia Beil v. AMCO Insurance Co., et al., No. 16-356, S.D. Ill., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 59757).
PASADENA, Calif. - A Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on April 7 reinstated a wrongful termination claim by a garbage truck driver who was fired twice by the same employer, finding that the employer's proffered reason for the second firing - the employee's failure to provide proof of his legal right to work in the United States - violated California public policy (Gilberto Santillan v. USA Waste of California, Inc., No. 15-55238, 9th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 6027).
LOS ANGELES - The California Supreme Court on April 6 reversed a court's ruling that the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) does not preempt a rule that provides that arbitration agreements for public injunctive relief under California's unfair competition law (UCL) and false advertising law are not enforceable in California, remanding a credit card user's allegations related to marketing of the card against the lender for further review (Sharon McGill v. Citibank, N.A., No. S224086, Calif. Sup., 2017 Cal. LEXIS 2551).
BALTIMORE - A Maryland federal judge on March 29 held that Sprint's underlying lawsuit against an insured fails to allege the publication of disparaging material and, therefore, the insurer's duty to defend was not triggered under the policy's "personal and advertising injury coverage" (Unwired Solutions, Inc. v. Ohio Security Insurance Co., No. 16-0405, D. Md., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 46215).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - After finding that a London arbitral award did not violate U.S. public policy, the D.C. Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on March 31 rejected an appeal by the government of Belize and affirmed confirmation of the $18,470,881 award issued in favor of a Belize bank (Belize Bank Limited v. Government of Belize, Nos. 16-7083 Consolidated with 16-7089, 16-7094, D.C. Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 5587).
MADISON, Wis. - A Wisconsin federal judge on March 16 found several state officials not liable for violation of the Stored Communications Act (SCA) in the seizure of an organization's electronic records as part of an investigation, finding the relevant warrants to have been issued in compliance with the statute and deeming the officials entitled to immunity under the act (The John K. MacIver Institute for Public Policy Inc. v. Francis Schmitz, et al., No. 3:16-cv-00539, W.D. Wis., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 36796).
LANSING, Mich. - The University of Michigan (UM) was hit with a lawsuit in Michigan court March 2, with a research and educational organization claiming that the university failed to comply with its request under the Michigan Freedom of Information Act (MFOIA) for copies of emails UM's president sent containing the word "Trump" (Mackinac Center for Public Policy v. University of Michigan, No. 17-000050-MZ, Mich. Clms.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A panel of the District of Columbia Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Feb.28 found that it does not have jurisdiction over a group's challenge to a statement from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that it would not acquiesce to an Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruling on policies the agency implemented on the discharge of water from publicly owned water treatment facilities outside the circuit, holding that the statement was not a rule that could be challenged in the appeals court (Center for Regulatory Reasonableness v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, No. 14-1150, D.C. Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 3576).
SAN FRANCISCO - The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Jan. 13 certified two questions to the California Supreme Court regarding whether California's notice-prejudice rule is a fundamental public policy for the purpose of choice-of-law analysis and whether a consent provision can be interpreted as a notice provision (Pitzer College v. Indian Harbor Insurance Co., No.. 14-56017, 9th Cir.; 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 668).
HARTFORD, Conn. - A Connecticut appeals court found that an insurer's duty to defend was not barred by a public entity errors and omission liability insurance policy's contract exclusion because an underlying complaint left open the possibility that a negligent misrepresentation claim against the insured did not arise out of a contract, reversing and remanding a lower court in an opinion to be officially released Dec. 6 (Town of Monroe v. Discover Property and Casualty Insurance Co., No. AC 38332, Conn. App.; 2016 Conn. App. LEXIS 443).
NEW YORK - The Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Nov. 7 affirmed a district court's decision to deny a petition to vacate an award filed by two subsidiaries of a Venezuela oil company and granting a cross-petition to confirm the award filed by ConocoPhillips Co., finding that the appellants failed to present any evidence that the award violated public policy (PDV Sweeny, Inc., et al. v. ConocoPhillips Co., et al., No. 16-170, 2nd Cir.).
SAN FRANCISCO - A California federal judge on Oct. 25 agreed to transfer a breach of contract class complaint to Virginia, finding that the contract's forum-selection clause "does not contravene any anti-waiver provision of California's UCL [unfair competition law] or the strong public policy of California" (Run Them Sweet, LLC v. CPA Global Limited, et al., No. 16-3662, N.D. Calif.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 147803).
ALLENTOWN, Pa. - A subrogation waiver clause included in a heating oil agreement sent to an insured by the heating oil company contravenes public policy because the average consumer does not have the chance to negotiate the provisions in residential heating oil contracts, a Pennsylvania federal judge said Oct. 5 in finding that an insurer is not barred from asserting negligence claims, as the subrogee of its insured, against the heating oil company (State Farm Fire & Casualty Co., et al. v. Petroleum Heat & Power Co. Inc., et al., No. 13-6732, E.D. Pa.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 138479).
CINCINNATI - The Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on July 5 affirmed a lower federal court's finding that because underlying claims were based on an associate pastor's sexual acts, the victims and their parents cannot recover a $4.35 million award against the pastor from his church's insurer because the policy does not cover an individual's sexual misconduct and because Ohio public policy prohibits insurance for the sexual abuse of a minor (Jacquin Clifford, et al. v. Church Mutual Insurance Co., No. 15-4154, 6th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 12541).
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - An "other insurance" clause cannot be enforced in an equitable contribution action between successive primary insurers, a California appeals panel held April 11, also finding that enforcement of the clause in a primary commercial general liability insurance policy would violate public policy (Certain Underwriters at Lloyds, London v. Arch Specialty Insurance Co., No. C072500, Calif. App., 3rd Dist.; 2016 Cal. App. LEXIS 275).
SCRANTON, Pa. - A Pennsylvania federal judge on March 30 held that whether one insured reimburses all or none of the $50,000 it was ordered to pay its insurer for the advancement of defense costs in an underlying criminal proceeding, the insurer has a duty to pay a second insured up to the $100,000 limit of liability pursuant to a public officials liability and employment practices liability insurance policy (Darwin National Assurance Co. v. Luzerne County Transportation Authority, et al., No. 14-2417, M.D. Pa.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 41733).
NEW ORLEANS - A Louisiana federal judge held Feb. 29 that although a directors and officers liability insurance policy's allocation clause limiting an insurer's duty to defend is not prohibited by Louisiana public policy, there remains a genuine issue of material fact regarding whether the insured ever agreed to a "fifty-fifty allocation" of defense costs (Housing Authority Of New Orleans v. Landmark Insurance Co., No. 15-1080, E.D. La.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 24419).
HARRISBURG, Pa. - A majority of the Pennsylvania Superior Court on Feb. 12 rejected an insured's argument that a commercial general liability insurance policy's employer's liability exclusion as it relates to a "leased worker" is unconscionable and against public policy, affirming a lower court's ruling in favor of an insurer in a coverage dispute arising from a workplace injury (Westfield Insurance Company v. Astra Foods Inc., et al., No. 1392 EDA 2014, Pa. Super.; 2016 Pa. Super. LEXIS 84).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A District of Columbia federal judge on Nov. 20 granted a Canadian gold mining company's petition to confirm a $740.3 million arbitration award issued in its favor and against the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, finding that the award did not violate public policy and that all of the relevant factors weighed in favor of confirmation (Gold Reserve Inc. v. Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, No. 1:14-cv-2014, D. D.C.).
NEW YORK - The Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Nov. 18 affirmed a lower federal court's ruling that a public entity management liability protection (PEMLP) policy's insured vs. insured exclusion bars coverage for an underlying municipal taxpayer lawsuit against the former chief administrative officer of the City of Burlington, Vt. (St. Paul Guardian Insurance Co., et al. v. Jonathan Leopold, No. 14-4519, 2nd Cir.).
PHILADELPHIA - The Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Oct. 23 affirmed a lower federal court's ruling that a commercial general liability insurance policy's prior publication exclusion precludes coverage for the Navajo Nation's trademark infringement claims against retailer Urban Outfitters (The Hanover Insurance Company v. Urban Outfitters, Inc., et al., No. 14-3705, 3rd Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 18459).