California Guidance on Complex Duty to Defend Disputes over Additional Insured Status

In McMillin Companies, LLC v. American Safety Indemnity Co. (4th Dist. Div. 1, No. D063586, January 22, 2015 (published in relevant part)), the California Court of Appeal for the Fourth District has provided some meaningful guidance on how a trial court should handle issues that regularly come up in cases where an alleged additional insured claims breach of the duty to defend by multiple insurers, including explaining the significance of an insurer’s unsuccessful attempt to obtain summary judgment on the duty to defend, the significance of other insurer settlements on claims against the remaining insurer, and the procedure for applying an offset to the policyholder’s claim for such settlements.

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The Illinois Duty to Defend: Litigation Insurance against Groundless Suits Even When Extrinsic Facts Known to Both Insurer and Insured Would Otherwise Abrogate Coverage

On January 13, 2015, the Illinois Appellate Court issued its opinion in Illinois Tool Works, Inc. v. Travelers Casualty and Surety Co., 2015 IL App. (1st) 132350 (1st Dist. 2015), wherein the court held the insurer had a duty to defend its insured against numerous vaguely pleaded toxic tort complaints. The central issue in Illinois Tool Works was whether facts extrinsic to the underlying complaint, known to both the insurer and insured, can abrogate the duty to defend. The Illinois Appellate Court held that undisputed extrinsic facts not pleaded in the underlying complaint cannot relieve an insurer of its duty to defend unless and until proven in the underlying action. Continue reading The Illinois Duty to Defend: Litigation Insurance against Groundless Suits Even When Extrinsic Facts Known to Both Insurer and Insured Would Otherwise Abrogate Coverage

The Assignment of Pennsylvania Statutory Bad Faith Claims: The Supreme Court Rules in Allstate Property and Casualty Ins. Co. v. Wolfe

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court recently clarified in Allstate Property and Casualty Ins. Co. v. Wolfe, No. 39 MAP 2014, 2014 WL 7088147 (Pa. Dec. 15, 2014) that statutory bad faith claims brought against insurers under 42 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 8371 can be assigned by insureds to injured third-party claimants. The decision originated from a certified question from the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Continue reading The Assignment of Pennsylvania Statutory Bad Faith Claims: The Supreme Court Rules in Allstate Property and Casualty Ins. Co. v. Wolfe

Duane Morris Partner Philip Matthews to be Co-moderator for “A View from the Bench” at ACI’s Asbestos Claims & Litigation Conference

Duane Morris partner Philip R. Matthews will be co-moderator for the “View from the Bench” panel at the Asbestos Claims & Litigation Conference, hosted by the American Conference Institute on January 15-16, 2015 at the Union League of Philadelphia. The panel will take place on Friday, January 16, at 8 a.m.

For more information or to register for this event, please visit the American Conference Institute website.

Duane Morris Partner Max Stern to Moderate Panel at the American Conference Institute’s National Forum on Insurance Allocation

Duane Morris partner Max H. Stern will be moderating a panel at the American Conference Institute’s (ACI) National Forum on Insurance Allocation on October 29, 2014 at the Carlton Hotel on Madison Avenue in New York. Mr. Stern’s session is titled, “In-House Roundtable: Counsel and Claims Professional Insights on New and Emerging Issues in Insurance Coverage and Allocation,” and will take place at 9:35 a.m.

For more information or to register for this event, please visit the American Conference Institute’s website.

Duane Morris Partner Dominica Anderson to Speak at the PIAA Corporate Counsel Workshop

Duane Morris partner Dominica C. Anderson will be speaking at the PIAA’s Corporate Counsel Workshop. Ms. Anderson’s session is titled, “ECO/XPL and the Mega-Verdict: Is This the New Normal?” and will begin at 2:45 p.m. on Thursday, October 16, 2014 at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver.

For more information about this event, please visit our Duane Morris Events Page.

Six-Month Delay Bars Coverage in NJ Under Claims-Made Policy

For a claims-made policy, the policy holder is to provide notice of a claim: (1) during the same policy period in which the policyholder received the claim and (2) “as soon as practicable.” Otherwise, the claim may be denied because of late notice. New Jersey has determined that six months or more is not “as soon as practicable.”

Holding: The Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division, held in Templo Fuente de Vida Corp. v. National Union Fire Insurance Company of Pittsburgh, P.A., that: (1) notice of a claim was not provided “as soon as practicable” when sent six months after service on the insured of the underlying complaint and (2) an insurer on a claims-made policy does not have to show that it was prejudiced by the late notice.

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California Court of Appeal Issues Ruling Regarding Attorney Fee Awards

A California Court of Appeal has affirmed the concept that a successful defendant who is entitled to an attorney fee award can seek an award which is greater than the fees actually billed by the insurance appointed defense counsel who represented the defendant.

In Syers Properties III, Inc. v. Ann Rankin et. al., 226 Cal.App.4th 69 (2014), defendants successfully obtained a judgment of nonsuit in a legal malpractice action. Defendants were entitled to attorney fees by reason of their fee agreement with the plaintiff which entitled the prevailing party to attorney fees. Defense counsel sought and successfully obtained an award of attorney fees which were not tied to the rates actually charged for the representation by presenting evidence to the trial court that a reasonable rate for the representation was actually higher than the rates charged. The court noted that the benchmark for a fee award is reasonableness and there is no requirement that the reasonable market rate mirror the actual rate billed. In concluding that a reasonable rate could exceed the actual rate billed, the court acknowledged that attorneys who do work for insurance companies often work at what are arguably below market rates (in part because of the volume of work). Thus, because counsel was able to convince the trial court that the skill, expertise and experience necessary to successfully litigate the case would reasonably have been charged at higher rates, the court of appeal concluded that the trial court was within its discretion in concluding that a higher rate was reasonable and justified.

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Third Circuit Issues Decision Concerning Medicare Secondary Payer Act in New Jersey

On July 29, 2014, the Third Circuit issued an interesting court decision concerning the Medicare Secondary Payer Act (MSP) that may provide guidance to the parties in tort litigation, particularly in New Jersey tort litigation, in a case styled Taransky v. United States. The Taransky case involved a slip and fall accident involving a settlement by a tortfeasor who tried to resolve the Medicare lien in the settlement process. The case pitted two statutes against each other, the Medicare Secondary Payer Act and a New Jersey statute prohibiting tort claimants from recovery twice under medical insurance and liability insurance. In the end, the Third Circuit found that the plaintiff had to reimburse Medicare from the tort settlement for medical bills incurred by Medicare. Continue reading Third Circuit Issues Decision Concerning Medicare Secondary Payer Act in New Jersey

California Limits the Duty to Defend Against Liability for Trademark Infringement as an “Advertising Injury”

In June 2014, two courts applying California insurance law limited the scope of an insurer’s duty to defend against allegations of trademark infringement within the context of coverage for “personal and advertising injury” under a general liability policy.

At issue in Hartford Casualty Insurance Co. v. Swift Distribution Inc. et al., 59 Cal. 4th 277 (2014) (Hartford), was whether allegations that an insured infringed on a competitor’s trademark and presented false and misleading advertisements that were likely to cause consumer confusion and mistake constituted an advertising injury covered under the Hartford liability policy.

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