LOS ANGELES — A California appeals panel on Feb. 6 rejected an unmarried couple’s argument 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, finding that the appellants have failed to raise triable issues of material fact that one of the appellants was an employee for purposes of coverage and that the insurer was required to treat the other appellant as a spouse (Gilbert Purcell, et al. v. Farmers Insurance Exchange, et al., No. B292698, Calif. App., 2nd Dist., Div. 1, 2020 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 886).
NEW ORLEANS — A Louisiana appeals panel on Feb. 5 held that collectability on an underlying personal injury claim stemming from a car accident does not affect the recovery in a legal malpractice claim against the lawyer who represented the underlying claimant, reversing a lower court’s ruling in favor of the lawyer and his malpractice insurer and remanding for the lower court to consider the amount of damages suffered by the claimant as a result of the accident (Elaine Ewing v. Westport Insurance Corporation, et al., No. 19-551, La. App., 3rd Dist., 2020 La. App. LEXIS 172).
RICHMOND, Va. — The Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Feb. 5 affirmed a lower federal court’s ruling that an insurer has no duty to defend or indemnify its insured against an underlying lawsuit, finding “no reversible error” in the lower court’s ruling (Scottsdale Insurance Company v. Christie Michelle Acosta, et al., No. 18-1808, 4th Cir., 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 3483).
SAN FRANCISCO — A California appeals panel on Jan. 31 affirmed a lower court’s ruling that stayed an appellant’s declaratory judgment lawsuit disputing the validity of a professional liability insurer’s subrogation claim against his family trust, finding that the lower court’s determination that an ongoing lawsuit in Maryland “presented a more suitable forum” was within the court’s discretion (John Berman v. Minnesota Lawyers Mutual Insurance Company, No. A155394, Calif. App., 1st Dist., Div. 3).
NEW YORK — A federal judge in New York on Jan. 31 granted a financial services company insured’s cross-motion for summary judgment as to its breach of contract claim in its lawsuit seeking indemnity for an underlying settlement arising from alleged “spoof emails” that resulted in a $5.9 million fraudulent wire transfer, but ruled in favor of the insurer as to a bad faith claim (SS&C Technology Holdings, Inc. v. AIG Specialty Insurance Company, No. 19-07859, S.D. N.Y., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 17201).
LINCOLN, Neb. — The Nebraska Supreme Court on Jan. 31 held that a lower court erred in ruling that a “professional services” insurance policy exclusion bars coverage for underlying civil rights lawsuits brought by six people who were exonerated nearly two decades after being charged with committing a murder in Beatrice, Neb., finding that the exclusion does not apply to law enforcement (Gage County, Nebraska v. Employers Mutual Casualty Company, No. S-18-1118, Neb. Sup., 2020 Neb. LEXIS 15).
SHERMAN, Texas — A federal judge on Jan. 31 granted insureds’ motion to remand their breach of contract lawsuit seeking professional liability coverage for an underlying trade secret dispute, finding that Certain Underwriters at Lloyd’s London have failed to satisfy their burden of establishing that the jurisdictional amount is met as to each member who belongs to the Lloyd’s syndicates and bear the liability for the risk (Xome Settlement Services, LLC, et al. v. Certain Underwriters at Lloyds, London, No. 18-00837, E.D. Texas, 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 16516).
CINCINNATI — The Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Jan. 31 affirmed a lower federal court’s summary judgment ruling in favor of a commercial property insurer in an insured’s breach of contract lawsuit arising from its vandalism claims, finding that the insured made material misrepresentations that contractually relieved the insurer of any potential duty to pay for the claims (American Land Investment Ltd. v. Allstate Insurance Company, et al., No. 19-3317, 6th Cir., 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 3095).
DOVER, Del.— The Delaware Supreme Court on Jan. 29 reversed and remanded a lower court’s ruling that an insurer has a duty to defend and indemnify its insured against underlying lawsuits arising from the death of a high school student, finding that “whether an assault is an ‘accident’ is determined by the intent of the insured, and not by the viewpoint of the victim” (USAA Casualty Insurance Company v. Trinity Carr, No. 273, 2019, Del. Sup., 2020 Del. LEXIS 38).
SANTA ANA, Calif. — Calling it a case of first impression, a California appeals court on Jan. 30 held that insurers have the right to appeal a small claims default judgment that was entered against their insureds and directed a lower court to reinstate an automobile insurer’s notice of appeal of a $10,000 default judgment entered against its insured over liability for an automobile accident (Pacific Pioneer Insurance Company v. Superior Court of Orange County, et al., No. G057326, Calif. App., 4th Dist., Div. 3).
CENTRAL ISLIP, N.Y. — A New York federal judge on Jan. 29 admitted testimony from a marine expert for a man seeking insurance coverage for a sunken boat but then awarded summary judgment to the man’s insurer anyhow after finding no evidence that it breached his policy (Edward L. Clark v. The Travelers Companies, Inc., No. 2:16-cv-02503, E.D. N.Y., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 15770).
PHILADELPHIA — A federal judge in Pennsylvania on Jan. 27 declared that a directors and officers liability insurer has a duty to defend its insureds against an underlying shareholder derivative lawsuit, rejecting the insurer’s argument that the policy’s “related acts” provision and “prior acts” exclusion bar coverage (Robert Vito, et al. v. RSUI Indemnity Company, No. 19-2468, E.D. Pa., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 14724).
NEW CASTLE, Del. — A Delaware judge on Jan. 21 held that coverage under an “Advanced Boardroom and Company Protection Policy” applies to the purported “wrongful acts” and any “interrelated wrongful acts” committed by two company officers on or after the date in the policy’s retroactive date exclusion (Ferrellgas Partners L.P., et al. v. Zurich American Insurance Company, et al., No. N19C-05-275, Del. Super., 2020 Del. Super. LEXIS 41).
MOUNT VERNON, Ill. — The Fifth District Illinois Appellate Court on Jan. 27 affirmed a trial court’s ruling that an employers liability insurer has no duty to defend an insured against an underlying asbestos bodily injury claim because the underlying asbestos exposure claim qualifies as a “bodily injury by disease” and is subject to the policy’s 36-month suit limitation provision (Apex Oil Co. Inc. v. Arrowood Indemnity Co., No. 5-18-0396, Ill. App., 5th Dist., 2020 Ill. App. Unpub. LEXIS 107).
BOSTON — A woman severely injured in an alcohol-involved vehicle crash on Oct. 1, 2019, asked the First Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals to rule that a district court erred by not recognizing insurance claims a nightclub assigned to her and by not trebling the value of her claim claims under the state’s consumer protection law (Capitol Specialty Insurance Corporation v. Kailee M. Higgins, et al., No. 19-1496, 1st Cir.).
NEW YORK — Whether a deaf woman’s case alleged intentional discrimination outside insurable limits or unintentional discrimination will come before the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Feb. 3 (Brooklyn Center for Psychotherapy Inc. v. Philadelphia Indemnity Insurance Co., No. 19-2266, 2nd Cir.).
CINCINNATI — The Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Jan. 27 affirmed a lower federal court’s dismissal of an insured’s lawsuit seeking recovery of more than $100,000 it paid to repair its yacht because an arbitrator already determined that the engine damage “was directly and proximately caused by a lack of required maintenance” (Rick E. Capone v. Atlantic Specialty Insurance Company, No. 19-3760, 6th Cir.).
BALTIMORE — A federal judge in Maryland on Jan. 23 held that an insured’s data and software constituted covered property under its business owners insurance policy and that the insured established damage to its computer system “despite its residual ability to function,” granting the insured’s motion for summary judgment in its lawsuit seeking coverage for its loss arising from a ransomware attack (National Ink and Stitch LLC v. State Auto Property and Casualty Insurance Company, No. 18-2138, D. Md., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 11411).
FORT WAYNE, Ind. — A federal judge in Indiana on Jan. 22 held that a claim alleging that a medical malpractice insurer failed to settle a malpractice claim against its doctor insured was not first asserted before the inception of its professional liability insurance policy and, therefore, its breach of contract claim against its professional liability insurer is not based on an assertion of coverage for a claim first made against it before the policy inception (The Medical Protective Company of Fort Wayne Indiana v. American International Specialty Lines Insurance Company, No. 13-357, N.D. Ind., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 10375).
RICHMOND, Va. — The Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Jan. 21 affirmed a lower federal court’s ruling in a dispute over prize indemnity insurance coverage for a "hole-in-one" golf tournament contest, finding that the lower court correctly found that the insured did not establish the elements of duty and proximate causation (Old White Charities, Inc. v. Bankers Insurance, LLC, No. 18-1914, 4th Cir.).