PHILADELPHIA — A Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel majority on Aug. 18 held that lower federal courts erred in weighing factors that are relevant to the exercise of discretion pursuant to the Declaratory Judgment Act (DJA), vacating the lower courts’ orders denying insurers’ motions to remove restaurant insureds’ coverage lawsuits arising from the coronavirus and remanding for renewed consideration of all relevant factors.
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — An insurance company on Aug. 5 failed in its bid to exclude a “costing expert” in an insurance benefits recovery suit when a New Mexico federal judge found that the expert meets the qualifications set under Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals Inc. and that the insurer’s objections can be resolved through cross-examination.
SCRANTON, Pa. — A Pennsylvania judge on Aug. 4 denied commercial insurers’ motion for judgment on the pleadings in a minor league baseball team owner insured’s breach of contract and bad faith lawsuit seeking coverage for its losses arising from the coronavirus pandemic, finding that the insured has sufficiently asserted “‘direct physical loss or damage’ to its property under the ‘physical contamination’ theory as a necessary condition to business interruption coverage."
MIAMI — A Florida judge on Aug. 12 directed a commercial insurer to issue a $31,357,400 payment to a receiver to deposit in his attorney trust account, discharging the insurer “of and from all further liability regarding the insurance claim and payment of the insurance proceeds under the Policy” in a consolidated class action arising from the June 24 partial collapse of a Surfside, Fla., condominium high-rise.
PITTSBURGH — A majority of the Pennsylvania Superior Court on Aug. 10 partly reversed a lower court’s order coordinating coronavirus coverage lawsuits against Erie Insurance Exchange in the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas, noting that Pennsylvania Rule of Civil Procedure 213.1 limits coordination to “pending” lawsuits.
NEW HAVEN, Conn.— The homeowners insurance provider of a woman whose home was damaged in a 2018 microburst storm must provide certain documents pertaining to its relationship with a purportedly unlicensed contractor, a Connecticut federal magistrate judge ruled Aug. 9, finding the documents to be relevant to the insured’s claim that the insurer engaged in a practice of lowballing repair estimates for coverage purposes.
HOUSTON — A federal judge in Texas on Aug. 5 dismissed insureds’ claims against an insurance agent and breach of fiduciary claims against an insurance broker in a Hurricane Harvey coverage dispute, allowing their claims for common-law misrepresentation, negligence and violations of the Deceptive Trade Practices Act and Texas Insurance Code against the broker to survive.
ATLANTA — Less than one week after a church insured withdrew its appeal challenging a Georgia federal court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of its insurer on a bad faith claim and a jury verdict in favor of the insurer on a breach of contract claim in a coverage dispute arising from Hurricane Matthew water damage, the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Aug. 4 dismissed the lawsuit.
ERIE, Pa. — Following the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation’s centralization of coronavirus business interruption coverage lawsuits against Erie Insurance Co. in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, a federal judge on Aug. 6 issued an order “in an effort to streamline these proceedings while at the same time maintaining and fostering ultimate judicial economy and minimizing the potential unnecessary expenditure of resources by the parties and counsel.”
BALTIMORE — Two commercial general liability insurers on Aug. 4 filed suit in a Maryland federal court disputing coverage for underlying lawsuits brought against their engineering firm insured by victims of the June 24 partial collapse of a Surfside, Fla., condominium high-rise, alleging that numerous policy exclusions preclude coverage for damages arising from the insured’s rendering or failure to render professional services.
OKLAHOMA CITY — An insured’s breach of contract and bad faith lawsuit arising of a coverage dispute for damages sustained to the insured’s home by wind and hail must be remanded to Oklahoma state court based on the parties’ stipulation that the amount in controversy does not exceed the federal jurisdictional minimum of $75,000, an Oklahoma federal judge said July 30.
LAKE CHARLES, La. — A Louisiana federal judge on Aug. 3 granted a homeowners insurer’s motion for summary judgment and dismissed an insured’s suit seeking damages caused by Hurricane Laura after determining that the policy’s hail or windstorm exclusion clearly bars coverage and that there is no evidence that the insurer acted in bad faith or negligently misrepresented the terms of the policy at issue.
CHICAGO — Hospitality industry insured plaintiffs on Aug. 3 moved for an injunction of all pending and future state court class actions in which insureds of Society Insurance Co. seek business interruption protection coverage arising out of the coronavirus pandemic until proceedings in a multidistrict litigation are completed, arguing to a federal court in Illinois that an injunction “is necessary to prevent Society from attempting to conduct a reverse auction with state court class action plaintiffs to the detriment of the Plaintiffs in this MDL.”
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Arguing that insurers are bound by what their insurance policy says and not what they wish it said, an insured in an Aug. 3 merits brief asks the Ohio Supreme Court to answer yes to a federal court’s certified question asking whether “the general presence in the community, or on surfaces at a premises, of the novel coronavirus known as SARS-CoV-2” constitutes “direct physical loss or damage to property; or does the presence on a premises of a person infected with COVID-19 constitute direct physical loss or damage to property at that premises?”
ATLANTA — A church insured on July 30 withdrew its appeal in the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals challenging a Georgia federal court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of its insurer on a bad faith claim and a jury verdict in favor of the insurer on a breach of contract claim in a coverage dispute arising from Hurricane Matthew water damage.
ALLENTOWN, Pa. — One month after a federal judge in Pennsylvania held that although Boscov's Department Store Inc.’s business has undoubtedly been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, its “alleged losses bear no causal connection to the physical condition of its properties,” Boscov’s on July 29 filed a notice of appeal to the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals challenging the no coverage ruling in its breach of contract and bad faith lawsuit against its insurer.
GULFPORT, Miss. — A federal judge in Mississippi on July 29 denied State Farm Fire and Casualty Co.’s motion to compel arbitration of claims under the False Claims Act (FCA) and stay all proceedings in relators’ 15-year-old qui tam suit accusing the insurer of filing false flood insurance claims after Hurricane Katrina.
MIAMI — A Florida judge on July 21 granted an insurer’s motion to intervene for the limited purpose of interpleading its $1,263,400 policy limits in a consolidated class action arising from the June 24 partial collapse of a Surfside, Fla., condominium high-rise, commending the insurer “for promptly recognizing its obligation to honor its insurance agreements with those who have lost property due to this tragic event, and for promptly tendering its policy limits to those victims who have yet to be located.”
ALBANY N.Y. — An Albany County, N.Y., Supreme Court justice on July 26 granted an all-risk commercial insurer’s motion to transfer an insured’s coronavirus coverage lawsuit to New York County, rejecting the insured’s argument that the current venue is proper under the policy’s forum selection clause.
NEW ORLEANS — A federal judge in Louisiana on July 23 denied a yacht owner insured’s motion for judgment on the pleadings and motion to review a magistrate’s judge’s order compelling discovery in an insurer’s lawsuit alleging the insurance policy was void ab initio because the insured breached the warranty under the Hurricane Questionnaire/Plan, finding that the ambiguous policy language raises an issue of material fact regarding the parties' intentions as to the scope of the policy and that the insurer has sufficiently alleged a breach by the insured.