BOSTON — The First Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on April 1 affirmed a district court’s ruling in favor of a commercial general liability insurer, agreeing with the lower court that the insurer has no duty to defend its insured apartment management company against an underlying suit arising out of water and mold damage (Clarendon National Insurance Company v. Philadelphia Indemnity Insurance Company, No. 19-1212, 1st Cir., 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 10257).
LAKE CHARLES, La. — A Louisiana federal magistrate judge on March 31 determined that an in camera review of an insurer’s claim file is warranted to determine whether the information in the claim file related to an insured’s coverage claim for an oil spill is privileged (Central Crude Inc. v. Liberty Mutual Insurance Co., et al., No. 17-308, W.D. La., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 56560).
SYRACUSE, N.Y. — A New York federal judge on March 30 denied reconsideration to an insurer of its earlier challenge in a reinsurance dispute over asbestos claims on whether testimony proved the value that the insurer placed on its insured’s agreement that the policies contained aggregate limits (Utica Mutual Insurance Co. v. Munich Reinsurance America Inc., No. 12-196, Munich Reinsurance America Inc. v. Utica Mutual Insurance Co., No. 13-743, N.D. N.Y.).
DURANT, Okla. — Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma is one of two Native American Indian tribes to sue its insurers on March 24 in an Oklahoma court, arguing that they are responsible for its losses and expenses related to the COVID-19 infection and coronavirus pandemic that has allegedly damaged its property and prevented it from being used for its intended purpose (Choctaw Nation Department of Commerce v. Lexington Insurance Co., et al., No. 20-35, Okla. Dist., Bryan Co.).
MONTPELIER, Vt. — A Vermont Supreme Court panel on March 20 affirmed a trial court’s ruling in favor of a homeowners insurers in a mold coverage suit because the insured failed to carry her burden of proving that the mold discovered in her home was covered under the policy at issue (Tatese Birch v. Vermont Insurance Co., No. 2019-328, Vt. Sup., 2020 Vt. Unpub. LEXIS 27).
By Scott M. Seaman and Judith A. Selby
SYRACUSE, N.Y. — In a March 30 opposition brief, a reinsurer calls an insurer’s motion for reconsideration “a third bite at the apple” that “does not meet the extraordinarily high standard” for that motion and, as such, maintains that a New York federal judge should not reconsider whether testimony proved the value that the insurer placed on its insured’s agreement that the policies contained aggregate limits (Utica Mutual Insurance Co. v. Munich Reinsurance America Inc., No. 12-196, Munich Reinsurance America Inc. v. Utica Mutual Insurance Co., No. 13-743, N.D. N.Y.).
CHICAGO — An Illinois federal judge on March 25 granted an insurer’s petition to confirm a final award in a reinsurance dispute over billings for asbestos claims, finding that the final award superseded an interim final award, which was never “mutual, final, and definite” (Allstate Insurance Co. v. Amerisure Mutual Insurance Co., No. 19-4341; Amerisure Mutual Insurance Co. v. Allstate Insurance Co., No. 19-7080, N.D. Ill., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 53923).
NAPA, Calif. — Owners, operators and managers of two Napa Valley, Calif., restaurants on March 25 sued their insurers in a California superior court, seeking a declaration that their insurance policy provides coverage for any current and future civil authority closures of Napa County restaurants because of physical loss or damage from the coronavirus and provides business income coverage in the event that coronavirus has caused a loss or damage at their restaurants (French Laundry Partners, LP, et al. v. Hartford Fire Insurance Company, et al., Calif. Super., Napa Co.).
CINCINNATI — No coverage is owed for a son’s exposure to secondhand smoke as a result of his father’s smoking because the father intended to smoke in front of the son, the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals said March 27, noting that there was there was no occurrence as required for coverage to exist under the policies at issue (Liberty Mutual Insurance Co., et al. v. Estate of Hugo Bobzien Jr., et al., No. 19-5457, 6th Cir., 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 9654).
ADA, Okla. — The Chickasaw Nation Department of Commerce on March 24 sued its insurers in Oklahoma court, seeking a declaration that its insurance policies cover its losses and expenses that are related to the coronavirus pandemic and COVID-19 infection (Chickasaw Nation Department of Commerce v. Lexington Insurance Co., et al., No. 20-35, Okla. Dist., Pontotoc Co.).
RICHMOND, Va. — A Virginia federal judge on March 25 granted an insurer’s motion to dismiss after determining that no coverage is afforded for an underlying product contamination suit because the contamination was not caused by a pollution condition as required under the policy at issue (Atlantic Bulk Carrier Corp. v. AIG Specialty Insurance Co., No. 19-318, E.D. Va., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 52297).
DOVER, Del. — A Delaware state judge on March 18 granted a homeowners insurer’s motion for summary judgment after determining that no coverage is owed for a pedestrian bridge and wall that was damaged during a rainstorm because the policy’s exclusions for earth movement and water damage preclude coverage (Eric Monzo, et al. v. Nationwide Property & Casualty Insurance Co., No. K18C-11-003 NEP, Del. Super., Kent Co., 2020 Del. Super. LEXIS 144).
BROOKLYN, N.Y. — An insurer failed to prove that it is entitled to offset any liability owed to a former client for a severed fuel oil line as the result of its settlement with the client’s insurer, the a New York appellate panel said March 18 (Richard Bennett, et al. v. State Farm Fire and Casualty Co., et al., No. 2018-11072, N.Y. Sup., App. Div., 2nd Dept., 2020 N.Y. App. Div. LEXIS 1941).
ROCHESTER, N.Y. — A New York federal judge on March 25 determined that an insured’s breach of contract claim cannot proceed but said that the insured’s bad faith claim can proceed because questions of fact exist regarding the insurer’s investigation and handling of the insured’s claim for product contamination following an ammonia leak in its warehouse (SatisPie LLC v. Travelers Property Casualty Company of America, No. 17-6234, W.D. N.Y., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 51861).
EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. — A commercial general liability insurer has no duty to defend its insured against an underlying suit alleging injuries as a result of mold exposure in an insured building because the policy’s fungi or bacteria exclusion clearly precludes coverage, an Illinois federal judge said March 24 (Penn-Star Insurance Co. v. Zeller Properties Inc., et al., No. 17-1264, S.D. Ill., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 50548).
SAN FRANCISCO — A California federal magistrate judge on March 22 granted a homeowners insurer’s motion to stay a water damage coverage suit after determining that the parties will not be prejudiced by a stay (Lawrence Lui, et al. v. State Farm Fire and Casualty Co., No. 19-6337, N.D. Calif., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 49946).
GREENBELT, Md. — An earth movement exclusion bars coverage for property damage claims submitted by insureds after their home was torn down following the collapse of a portion of a cliff because the falling of the cliff was clearly caused by earth movement, a Maryland federal judge said March 20 (James McWhorter, et al. v. Bankers Standard Insurance Co., No. 18-2452, D. Md., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 48668).
ATLANTA — The 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on March 13 affirmed a district court’s ruling in favor of an insurer because the insurer met its defense and indemnity obligations to its insured in an underlying suit arising out of the insured’s scrap metal shredding facility (QBE Specialty Insurance Co. v. Scrap Inc., Nos. 18-13926, 19-13894, 11th Cir., 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 8015).
CINCINNATI — The majority of the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on March 20 affirmed a district court’s ruling that an insurer was materially prejudiced by an insured’s late notice of a claim for water damage caused by burst water pipes because the insurer was not able to view the damage to the home as a result of the homeowner’s decision not to provide notice of the claim until after demolishing and repairing the damage (Timika Keathley v. Grange Insurance Company of Michigan, No. 19-1242, 6th Cir.).