SANTA ANA, Calif. — A California federal jury on April 14 entered an almost $8 million verdict against a company that supplied pomegranate seeds contaminated with hepatitis A after determining that the plaintiffs proved that the company was the source of the contaminated seeds (Townsend Farms Inc. v. Goknur Gida Maddeleri Enerji Imalat Ithalat Ihracat Ticaret ve Sanayi A.S. et al., No. 15-837, C.D. Calif.).
LOS ANGELES — A California federal judge on April 12 remanded a disability claim to the plan administrator to determine whether the disability claimant was disabled under the plan’s “any occupation” standard (Bertha Campos v. Reliance Standard Life Insurance Co., No. 15-8304, C.D. Calif., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 56185).
SAN FRANCISCO — Because a disability claimant submitted substantial evidence proving that she was disabled from her own occupation, the claimant is owed retroactive disability benefits for the 24-month period of disability under the own-occupation standard, a California federal judge said April 11 (Cathleen Murphy v. California Physicians Service, et al., No. 14-2581, N.D. Calif., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 55431).
PASADENA, Calif. — The San Francisco Forty Niners Football Co.'s primary commercial general liability insurer on April 12 filed a notice of appeal in the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals challenging a lower federal court’s finding that it has duty to contribute by equal shares with another insurer to defense costs in an underlying lawsuit against the football team and others (First Mercury Insurance Co. v. Great Divide Insurance Co., No. 17-1511, 9th Cir.).
SANTA ANA, Calif. — A California federal judge on April 10 granted an insured’s motion for summary judgment in a declaratory judgment lawsuit arising from underlying claims for malicious prosecution and defamation brought by the insured’s employee (KPC Healthcare, Inc. v. Hudson Specialty Ins. Co., No. 16-01483, C.D. Calif., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 55443).
SAN FRANCISCO — In briefs filed before the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, a law firm and its former insurer dispute whether seven real estate investment fraud lawsuits brought against the firm should be considered one claim for coverage purposes under professional liability policies (Liberty Insurance Underwriters Inc. v. Davies Lemmis Raphaely Law Corp., et al., No. 16-55711, 9th Cir.).
LOS ANGELES — Because a disability claimant established that his disability was caused by brain damage and not depression and anxiety, a disability insurer’s reliance on the plan’s mental illness limitation to terminate his benefits was in error, a California federal judge said March 27 (John Doe v. Prudential Insurance Company of America, et al., 15-04089, C.D. Calif.. 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 45774).
FRESNO, Calif. — An insurer did not breach a boat business’ all-risk policy in bad faith by denying coverage for a theft claim because the evidence at trial showed that the loss of the business’ boat inventory was not the result of theft but rather a family’s asset transfer scheme gone awry, a California federal judge held March 31 (Pacific Marine Center, Inc. v. Philadelphia Indemnity Insurance Company, No. 1:13-cv-00992, E.D. Calif., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 49637).
FRESNO, Calif. — A California jury on March 22 ruled in favor of Alliant Insurance Services and 10 of its insurance producers on a competing insurance brokerage firm’s cross-claims for breach of fiduciary duty, aiding and abetting breach of fiduciary duty, breach of the duty of loyalty, interference with contract and misappropriation of trade secrets (Peter Baldwin, et al. v. Aon Risk Services Companies Inc., et al., No. 14-00572, Calif. Super.).
RIVERSIDE, Calif. — A California federal judge on April 3 entered final judgment in favor of a commercial general liability insurer after finding that it has no duty to defend its insured against an underlying trademark and trade dress infringement lawsuit because the insurance policy’s intellectual property exclusion bars coverage for all claims (Secard Pools, Inc., et al. v. Kinsale Insurance Co., No. 16-02404, C.D. Calif., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 47871).
SAN FRANCISCO — A California appeals panel on March 29 affirmed a lower court’s ruling that a business owners insurer did not breach its contract when it refused to defend its insureds against a lawsuit alleging injuries and California Labor Code violations by the insured’s employee (Elena Delgadillo, et al. v. United States Liability Insurance Co., et al., No A143452, Calif. App., 1st Dist., Div. 4, 2017 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 2273).
RIVERSIDE, Calif. — Because a short-term disability plan is a self-funded plan, the Employee Retirement Income Security Act preempts a California statute that bars the plan’s discretionary authority provision, a California federal judge said March 28 in determining that the plan’s denial of benefits was supported by substantial evidence (Daniel Johnson v. Aetna Life Insurance Co., et al., No. 15-1940, C.D. Calif., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 45858).
RIVERSIDE, Calif. — A noncumulation clause included in three umbrella policies operates as an anti-stacking provision, preventing the insured from stacking the three policies’ $9 million limits to cover costs for a landfill cleanup, a California federal judge said March 8 (The Insurance Company of the State of Pennsylvania v. County of San Bernardino, No. 16-0128, C.D. Calif., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 45031).
SAN FRANCISCO — An insurer involved in an environmental contamination coverage dispute is entitled to reimbursement of the deductible it paid on behalf of its insured because the policy at issue specifically states that the deductible includes claim expenses such as defense costs, a California federal judge said March 29 in granting the insurer’s motion for partial summary judgment (American Guarantee and Liability Insurance Co., et al. v. Technichem Inc., et al., No. 15-03611, N.D. Calif., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 47103).
SAN DIEGO — Sufficient questions exist regarding how much a couple knew about a man’s alcohol and disc diseases to deny an insurer’s motion for summary judgment in a policy rescission case, a federal judge in California held March 22 (HCC Life Insurance Co., et al. v. Kevin Conroy and Linda Conroy, No. 15-2897, S.D. Calif., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 41794).
SAN FRANCISCO — A de novo standard of review must be applied in a claimant’s suit seeking long-term disability benefits because the plan’s discretionary authority provision is void under California state law, a California federal judge said March 27 (Peter Englert v. The Prudential Insurance Company of America, No. 15-4814, N.D. Calif.; 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 44833).
LOS ANGELES — The decision to deny disability benefits to a claimant who was rendered quadriplegic was not an abuse of discretion because the claimant failed to timely file his claim for benefits, a California federal judge said March 20 (Gregory Clark v. Provident Life and Accident Ins. Co., et al., No. 15-6458, C.D. Calif., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 39825).
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).
PASADENA, Calif. — The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on March 21 affirmed a lower federal court’s $6,080,568 judgment in favor of an insured in a breach of contract and bad faith lawsuit against its excess general liability insurer arising from an underlying patent infringement dispute (Teleflex Medical Incorporated v. National Union Fire Insurance Company of Pittsburgh, Pa., No. 14-56366, 9th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 4996).
LOS ANGELES — A California federal judge on March 17 dismissed without prejudice a breach of contract and bad faith lawsuit against a professional liability insurer in a coverage dispute arising from the insured’s alleged breach of a loan agreement (GemCap Lending, LLC v. Scottsdale Indemnity Co., et al., No. 15-09942, C.D. Calif., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 38931).