Mealey's California Insurance

  • January 27, 2020

    Insurer Sues 5 Insurers For Indemnity, Contribution In Defense Of Defects Claims

    SAN FRANCISCO — An insurer on Jan. 22 sued five other insurers in a California federal court seeking a declaration of their coverage obligations in the defense of a consolidated underlying construction defects case arising out of a Hampton Inn hotel project (ACE American Insurance Co. v. Old Republic General Insurance Corp., et al., No. 20-cv-00482, N.D. Calif.).

  • January 21, 2020

    Insurer, Reinsurer Update On Arbitrator Selection In Breach Of Contract Dispute

    RIVERSIDE, Calif. — An insurer and a reinsurer tell a California federal judge in Jan. 16 joint status report that they have selected individual arbitrators and are choosing an umpire for arbitration of a breach of contract case over $8.6 million in equipment breakdown claims (Nationwide Agribusiness Insurance Co. v. The Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection and Insurance Co., No. 19-00531, C.D. Calif.).

  • January 21, 2020

    No Coverage For Claims Patent Was Fraudulently Procured, Used To Monopolize Market

    SAN JOSE, Calif. — A California appeals panel on Jan. 16 affirmed a lower court’s ruling that a commercial liability insurer has no duty to defend or indemnify its insured against underlying claims that it fraudulently procured a patent from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) and used that particular patent to attempt to monopolize the active dopant metrology market, rejecting the argument that it was objectively reasonable for the insured to expect that the policy’s “malicious prosecution” coverage extended to this claim (Travelers Property Casualty Company of America v. KLA Tencor Corp., No. H044890, Calif. App., 6th Dist.).

  • January 17, 2020

    California Judge Approves Final $80M Distribution, Closes Insurer’s Estate

    LOS ANGELES — A California judge on Dec. 4 approved the state’s insurance commissioner’s application for a final distribution of approximately $80 million to occur by July 1 and to close the estate of Executive Life Insurance Co. (ELIC) (Insurance Commissioner of the State of California v. Executive Life Insurance Co., No.BS 006912,Calif. Super., Los Angeles Co.).

  • January 10, 2020

    California Winery Operator Seeks Coverage For ‘Smoke Taint’ Caused By Wildfires

    OAKLAND, Calif. — An operator of vineyards and winemaking operations in California on Jan. 3 sued London insurers for breach of contract and bad faith in a California federal court, alleging that they wrongfully refused to pay for smoke exposure damage to its finished wines caused by the October 2017 wildfires in Sonoma and Napa County, Calif., and seeking $12 million for its loss (Vintage Wine Estates, Inc. v. Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance PLC, et al., No. 20-00101, N.D. Calif.).

  • January 07, 2020

    Reinsurer Seeks Reversal Of Order Denying Intervention In Creditor’s $3.2M Dispute

    SAN FRANCISCO — A reinsurer argues in a Jan. 3 reply that the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals should reverse an order denying its motion to intervene in a dispute over a $3.2 million judgment and remand to allow the reinsurer to proceed with its claims against another reinsurer, which is the judgment creditor (Odyssey Reinsurance Co. v. Richard Keith Nagby, et al. v. Knight Insurance Company Ltd., Nos. 19-55346, 19-55347, 19-55423, 9th Cir.).

  • January 07, 2020

    Former NFL Player’s Suit Seeking Additional Disability Benefits Dismissed

    SAN JOSE, Calif. — A California federal judge on Jan. 3 dismissed a former National Football League (NFL) player’s complaint seeking additional disability benefits because the complaint fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted and because the issue of the denial of benefits was litigated in a previous suit filed by the former player (Delvin Williams v. The NFL Player Supplemental Disability Plan et al., No. 19-4236, N.D. Calif., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 1551).

  • January 07, 2020

    California Panel: Lawyer’s Demand Letters To Insurer Can Support Fraud Claims

    LOS ANGELES — A California appeals court panel on Dec. 23 affirmed a ruling denying a lawyer and law firm’s motion to strike allegations brought against them by Allstate Insurance Co. over an alleged insurance fraud scheme, finding that demand letters sent by the defendants to the insurer are not protected activity under California law (People of the state of California, ex rel. Allstate Insurance Co. v. Kelly L. Casado, et al., No. B288742, Calif. App., 2nd Dist., 7th Div., 2019 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 8572).

  • January 03, 2020

    Au Pair Sponsor’s Request To Apply Notice-Prejudice Rule To Coverage Suit Rejected

    PASADENA, Calif. — The Ninth Circuit U.S Court of Appeals on Dec. 13 rejected a federally authorized au pair program sponsor’s argument that California law requires a not-for-profit entity and directors and officers liability insurer to prove that it was prejudiced by the insured's alleged untimely reporting of an underlying lawsuit brought under the Sherman Act, finding that the notice-prejudice rule does not apply to the policy (EurAuPair International, Inc. v. Ironshore Specialty Insurance Company, No. 18-55933, 9th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 36898).

  • January 02, 2020

    Third Party Can Be Compelled To Arbitrate Coverage Suit, Panel Says In Reversal

    SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A California appeals panel on Dec. 31 held that an insurance policy’s binding arbitration clause applies to a third party, reversing and ordering a lower court to order arbitration of a coverage dispute arising from an underlying injury that occurred at a convention center parking lot (Philadelphia Indemnity Insurance Company v. SMG Holdings Inc., No. C082841, Calif., App., 3rd Dist., 2019 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 8686).

  • January 02, 2020

    Judge: Intervening Insurers Can Represent Estates, Corporation In Cleanup Suit

    RIVERSIDE, Calif. — A federal judge in California on Dec. 20 denied a motion for judgment on the pleadings brought by two estates seeking cost recovery under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) for remediation costs associated with the cleanup of perchloroethylene (PCE) contamination caused by dry cleaning operations, finding that insurers can represent two defendant estates and a suspended corporation (Estate of Betty Goldberg, et al. v. Goss-Jewett Co., et al., No. 14-1872, C.D. Calif.).

  • January 02, 2020

    Judge Awards $218,246 To Reinsurer For Conduct Of Insurance Agency’s Principal

    SAN DIEGO — A California federal judge on Dec. 27 awarded $218,246 to a reinsurer for the contemptuous conduct of an insolvent insurance agency’s principal regarding a preliminary injunction and a temporary restraining order in a dispute over the alleged fraudulent transfer of the agency’s assets to avoid payment of a $3.2 million judgment (Odyssey Reinsurance Co. v. Richard Keith Nagby, et al., No. 16-3038, S.D. Calif., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 221812).

  • December 20, 2019

    Primary Insurer Acted In Bad Faith By Not Settling Within Policy Limits

    SAN FRANCISCO — A  California federal judge on Dec. 18 determined that a primary insurer breached its duty of good faith and fair dealing by refusing to settle an underlying action filed against its insured within its policy limits (Houston Casualty Co. v. National Union Fire Insurance Company of Pittsburgh, Pa., et al., No, 18-6147, N.D. Calif., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 217615).

  • December 16, 2019

    Reinsurer’s Motion To Intervene In $3.2M Dispute Was Untimely, Creditor Tells 9th Circuit

    SAN FRANCISCO — A judgment creditor tells the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in a Dec. 13 brief that a reinsurer’s motion to intervene was untimely in its dispute over a $3.2 million judgment and that the reinsurer lacked the “requisite legal interest to support intervention” (Odyssey Reinsurance Co. v. Richard Keith Nagby, et al. v. Knight Insurance Company Ltd., Nos. 19-55346, 19-55347 & 19-55423, 9th Cir.).

  • December 11, 2019

    Plan Did Not Abuse Discretion In Terminating Disability Benefits, Panel Says

    SAN FRANCISCO — A district court did not err in applying an abuse-of-discretion standard of  review in a disability suit because the plan administrator’s conduct did not rise to the level of requiring a de novo review of the plan’s denial of benefits, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals said Dec. 10 in affirming the lower court’s finding that the plan did not abuse its discretion in terminating the disability claimant’s benefits (Olga Gorbacheva v. Abbott Laboratories Extended Disability Plan, et al., Nos. 18-15400, 18-16178, 9th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 36542).

  • December 05, 2019

    Federal Judge Denies Insurers’ Motions To Intervene In Contamination Suit

    SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A California federal judge on Dec. 3 denied motions to intervene by a number of insurers in a dispute over liability for groundwater contamination under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act after determining that the insurers failed to show good cause for intervening in the suit (California Department of Toxic Substances Control, et al. v. Jim Dobbas Inc., et al., No. 14-0595, E.D. Calif., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 209377).

  • December 04, 2019

    9th Circuit:  USFWS Officer’s Sexual Contact With Employee Was Not ‘Occurrence’

    PORTLAND, Ore. — The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Dec. 3 held that a former regional field dive officer for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s sexual contact with a fellow employee was not an occurrence under a homeowners insurance policy, affirming a lower court in part (American Reliable Insurance Company v. Lawrence Lockard, et al., Nos. 18-35758 and 18-35786, 9th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 35869).

  • December 04, 2019

    Disability Claimant Met Burden Of Proving He Remained Disabled

    SAN FRANCISCO — A California federal judge on Nov. 27 granted a disability claimant’s motion for judgment on the administrative record after determining that the claimant met his burden of proving that he remained disabled from performing the duties of his sedentary occupation as a project manager (Steven S. Garretson v. Metropolitan Life Insurance Co., No. 17-7052, N.D. Calif., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 206700).

  • December 04, 2019

    Judge Names California Insurance Commissioner As Insurer’s Conservator

    REDWOOD CITY, Calif. — A California judge on Nov. 4 appointed the state’s insurance commissioner as conservator of California Insurance Co. (CIC) and enjoined all litigation involving the insurer (Insurance Commissioner of the State of California v. California Insurance Co., No. 19CIV06531, Calif. Super., San Mateo Co.).

  • December 04, 2019

    Couple:  Insurer Breached Contract By Denying Coverage In Underlying Case

    LOS ANGELES — An unmarried couple recently filed a brief in California appellate court contending that a lower court erred when it ruled that an insurer did not breach its contract to the insureds by refusing to cover one member of the couple when they were both sued for malicious prosecution related to an underlying lawsuit (Gilbert Purcell, et al. v. Farmers Insurance Exchange, et al., No. B292698, Calif. App., 2nd Dist., Div. 1).