Mealey's Emerging Insurance Disputes

  • June 16, 2020

    Assault And Battery, Firearms Exclusions Bar Coverage, Illinois Panel Says, Reverses

    CHICAGO — An Illinois appeals panel on June 5 held that commercial general liability insurance coverage for an underlying incident that occurred at a Chicago nightclub insured’s parking lot is barred by the policy’s “assault and battery” and “firearms” exclusions, reversing a lower court (Markel International Insurance Company Limited v. Amber Montgomery, et al., No. 1-19-1175, Ill. App., 1st Dist., 6th Div., 2020 Ill. App. Unpub. LEXIS 990).

  • June 11, 2020

    Pollution Exclusion Bars Coverage For Suit Arising Out Of Spraying Of Pesticides

    DENVER — The 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on June 10 affirmed a district court’s ruling that an insurer owes no coverage for the spraying of pesticides because the policy’s pollution exclusion clearly bars coverage (MJH Properties LLC v. Westchester Surplus Lines Insurance Co., No. 20-6002, 10th Cir., 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 18209).

  • June 09, 2020

    Insured: Insurers Have Proven During Pandemic Their ‘Solid Reputation’ Is Undeserved

    STANISLAUS, Calif. — A hotel operator insured on June 4 filed a class action complaint for breach of contract and declaratory relief against insurers for denying business interruption coverage claims, alleging that they have proven during the novel coronavirus pandemic that their “solid reputation for doing the right thing for the right reason” is undeserved (American Traders Inc. v.  Mid-Century Insurance Company, et al., No. 20-002477, Calif. Super., Stanislaus Co.).

  • June 09, 2020

    Coverage Not Barred By Invasion Of Privacy Exclusion, Assignee Says To 11th Circuit

    ATLANTA — An insured’s assignee recently asked the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals to reverse a federal district court’s finding that coverage for an underlying $60,413,112 consent judgment entered against the insured in a Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) violation dispute is barred by the insurance policy's “invasion of privacy” exclusion (Jacob Horn, et al. v. Liberty Insurance Underwriters, Inc., No. 19-12525, 11th Cir.).

  • June 09, 2020

    Class Action: Policy ‘Specifically’ Covers Trip Cancellation Due To Quarantine

    LOS ANGELES — A class action complaint for breach of contract, bad faith and violations of California Business and Professions Code Sections 17200 and 17500 was filed against a travel insurer in a California federal court on June 2, alleging that the insurance policy “specifically provides coverage benefits for trip cancellation due to various stated occurrences, including ‘Being hijacked or Quarantined’” (Richard Robbins v. Generali Global Assistance, Inc., et al., No. 20-04904, C.D. Calif.).

  • June 09, 2020

    Iowa High Court Reverses No Coverage Ruling Over Gross Negligence Claims 

    DES MOINES, Iowa — The Iowa Supreme Court on June 5 reversed a lower court’s summary judgment ruling in favor of a commercial general liability insurer in its lawsuit disputing coverage for an underlying gross negligence lawsuit brought by the estate and spouse of an employee who was fatally injured while he was an employee of the amusement park insured (T.H.E. Insurance Company v. Stuart R. Glen, et al., No. 18-1550, Iowa Sup., 2020 Iowa Sup. LEXIS 64).

  • June 08, 2020

    Majority:  Fact Issues Exist As To Whether Policy Would Have Covered Spoilage

    BOSTON — A majority of a Massachusetts appeals court held June 5 that there are genuine issues of material fact regarding whether a warehouse legal liability insurance policy’s emergency removal coverage extension that a broker could have obtained for a cold storage facility would have provided coverage for spoilage to frozen snow crab that occurred when it was removed from one of the facility’s freezers after a forklift accident, vacating a lower court’s ruling in favor of the broker and remanding for further proceedings (Whitecap International Seafood Exporters Inc. v. Eastern Insurance Group LLC, No. 18-P-1570, Mass. App., 2020 Mass. App. LEXIS 66).

  • June 08, 2020

    Insurer Cites 4 Reasons No Coverage Is Owed For Restaurant’s Coronavirus Claims

    PHILADELPHIA — An insurer on June 5 moved for judgment on the pleadings in a Pennsylvania federal court challenging a restaurant owner insured’s complaint seeking a declaration that its all-risk insurance policy covers any current and future civil authority closures of Philadelphia County restaurants due to physical loss or damage from the novel coronavirus and provides business income coverage if the coronavirus causes a loss or damage at its restaurant (LH Dining L.L.C. v. Admiral Indemnity Company, No. 20-01869, E.D. Pa.).

  • June 08, 2020

    Landlord’s Insurer Owes No Duty To Defend Personal Injury Suit, Panel Affirms

    RIVERSIDE, Calif. — A California appeals panel on June 3 affirmed a lower court’s ruling that a landlord’s commercial general liability insurer has no duty to defend against an underlying personal injury lawsuit because the landlord had not paid the required $250,000 self-insured retention and its policy was excess to a tenant’s CGL policy pursuant to the “other insurance” clause (State Farm General Insurance Company v. Columbia Casualty Company, No. E072918, Calif. App., 4th Dist., Div. 2, 2020 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 3475).

  • June 05, 2020

    5th Circuit Refuses To Rehear Professional Liability Suit Over Malpractice Claim

    NEW ORLEANS — A Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on June 4 denied an insurer’s petition to rehear a professional liability coverage dispute, standing by a previous reversal of a lower federal court’s ruling in favor of the insurer in its lawsuit challenging coverage for an underlying malpractice claim brought against its attorney insured (Landmark American Insurance Company v. Lonergan Law Firm, P.L.L.C., et al.,  No. 19-10385, 5th Cir.).

  • June 05, 2020

    Law Firm Seeks Coverage For Continuing Operating Expenses Due To Coronavirus

    PHILADELPHIA — A Philadelphia law firm sued its insurer for breach of contract in a Pennsylvania court on May 26, seeking a declaration that it has a duty to provide “Business Income” and “Civil Authority” coverage for its continuing operating expenses due to the novel coronavirus pandemic and the resulting closure of its offices (Spector Gadon Rosen Vinci P.C. v. Valley Forge Insurance Company, No. 00501636, Pa. Comm. Pls., Philadelphia Co.).

  • June 04, 2020

    Insured Accuses Insurer Of ‘Forum Shopping’ In Coronavirus Coverage Dispute

    LOS ANGELES — A law firm insured on June 2 asked a federal court in California to dismiss or, alternatively, stay a business owners insurer’s lawsuit seeking a declaration that the presence or suspected presence of the novel coronavirus does not constitute “direct physical loss or damage” to trigger coverage for the insured’s claimed loss of income (Travelers Casualty Insurance Company of America v. Geragos & Geragos, No. 20-03619, C.D. Calif.).

  • June 02, 2020

    COMMENTARY: COVID-19 Claims: Single Or Multiple Occurrences?

    By Peter B. Steffen and John M. O’Bryan

  • June 03, 2020

    Federal Judge Dismisses Insurer’s 2nd Attempt To Remove Coronavirus Coverage Suit

    PITTSBURGH — One day after an insurer filed an amended and renewed notice of removal of a restaurant insured’s lawsuit seeking recovery of its damage caused by the novel coronavirus pandemic and governmental closure orders, a federal judge in Pennsylvania on May 27 dismissed the amended notice of removal for lack of jurisdiction (DiAnoia’s Eatery LLC v. Motorists Mutual Insurance Co., No. 20-706, W.D. Pa.).

  • June 03, 2020

    Roundup Of Briefs, Complaints And Proposed Bills Over Coronavirus Coverage

    From insurers seeking dismissal of novel coronavirus coverage lawsuits to the proposed Pandemic Risk Insurance Act bill, Mealey Publications takes a look at the latest pleadings relating to business interruption coverage for COVID-19.

  • June 02, 2020

    Judge Refuses To Compel Insurer To Produce Communications With Outside Counsel

    CHARLESTON, S.C. — A federal judge in South Carolina on May 29 denied without prejudice an insured’s motion to compel a professional liability insurer to produce its communications with outside counsel, rejecting the insured’s argument that the insurer waived its attorney-client privilege over the communications (Susan Harriman v. Associated Industries Insurance Company, Inc., No. 18-02750, D. S.C., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 93649).

  • June 02, 2020

    Policy Exemplifies Insurers’ ‘Broken Promise,’ Insureds Argue In Pandemic Suit

    KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Retailer insureds on May 22 sued their all-risk commercial property insurers for breach of contract in a federal court in Kansas, alleging that the insurers are part of an industry that has taken a “uniform approach” to the novel coronavirus pandemic by denying coverage even when the policy does not include an exclusion for losses related to a pandemic or virus (RPR Enterprises, Inc. et al.  v. Continental Western Group, LLC, et al., No. 20-02256, D. Kan.).

  • June 02, 2020

    Restaurants Seek Expedited Summary Judgment In Their Coronavirus Coverage Dispute

    WASHINGTON, D.C. —Restaurant owners on May 4 moved for expedited summary judgment the same day they filed a lawsuit against their all-risk insurer in a District of Columbia court, arguing that the loss of use of their properties due to the novel coronavirus and related governmental orders constitutes “direct physical loss” under their insurance policies and asserting that this “is clearly a case in which justice delayed is justice denied” (Rose’s 1, LLC, et al. v. Erie Insurance Exchange, D.C. Super.).

  • June 02, 2020

    Firm’s Client Not Permitted To Intervene In Professional Liability Coverage Suit

    PHILADELPHIA — A federal judge in Pennsylvania on June 1 denied a law firm insured’s former client motion to intervene in its professional liability insurer’s lawsuit seeking a declaration as to coverage for an underlying malpractice lawsuit (Allied World Insurance Co. v. Kenney & McCafferty, P.C., et al., No. 20-00469, E.D. Pa., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 95663).

  • June 02, 2020

    Panel:  Insurer Did Not Act Vexatiously In Denying Directors, Officers Coverage

    CHICAGO — An Illinois appeals panel on May 28 affirmed a lower court’s finding that a directors and officers liability insurer did not act vexatiously or unreasonably when it denied coverage for an underlying lawsuit alleging breach of fiduciary duty, minority member oppression, breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing and civil conspiracy, finding that the existence of a bona fide dispute precludes recovery for bad faith (Nine Group II, LLC, et al. v. Liberty International Underwriters, Inc., No. 19-0320, Ill. App., 1st Dist., 4th Div., 2020 Ill. App. Unpub. LEXIS 927).