Duane Morris Attorney Thomas Newman Authors “Satisfying a Self-Insured Retention or Deductible in a Third Party Claim”

Duane Morris of counsel Thomas R. Newman authored an article that was recently published in the FDCC Quarterly. “Satisfying a Self-Insured Retention or Deductible in a Third Party Claim” explores the risks in protecting against third-party claims and that is not financially necessary for the commercial policyholder to purchase liability insurance. The article will additionally discuss the differences between a “deductible” and an “SIR” and even considers why a policyholder could choose one instead of the other even if the dollar amount is the same. Subsequently, the article will examine whether an SIR may be satisfied by “other insurance” and finally, address how a deductible can be satisfied and whether the defense consts will erode the SIR.

To read the article in its entirety, please visit the FDCC Quarterly website.

Duane Morris Partner Philip R. Matthews Elected a Fellow of the American College of Coverage and Extracontractual Counsel

Duane Morris congratulates partner Philip R. Matthews on being elected a Fellow of the American College of Coverage and Extracontractual Counsel (ACCEC). The ACCEC is composed of preeminent coverage and extracontractual counsel in the United States and Canada, representing the interests of both insurers and policyholders. As the most selective class of ACCEC membership, Fellows must be licensed to practice in the highest court of their respective state and must have at least 15 years of experience in insurance law. For more information, please visit the ACCEC website.

Matthews, of the firm’s San Francisco office, has nearly four decades of experience and has been involved in representing insurers in some of the largest exposures facing the insurance industry during his career, including representing insurers in some of the largest trials and appeals in California. He practices in the area of general civil litigation and insurance counseling and litigation with an emphasis on complex cases, as well as resolving complex insurance coverage disputes through alternative dispute resolution procedures.

Two Important Insurance Matters Set For The California Supreme Court’s May Calendar

Yesterday, the California Supreme Court set two important and much anticipated insurance cases for May oral argument.

On May 26, 2015, the Court will hear argument in Fluor v. S.C. (Hartford Accident & Indemnity Company), No. S205889, which presents the following issue: Are the limitations on assignment of third party liability insurance policy benefits recognized in Henkel Corp. v. Hartford Accident & Indemnity Co. (2003) 29 Cal.4th 934 inconsistent with the provisions of Insurance Code section 520?

On May 28, 2015, the Court will hear argument in J.R. Marketing, L.L.C. v. Hartford Casualty Insurance, No. S211645, which presents a rare opportunity for guidance from the Supreme Court on independent Cumis counsel issues. The case present the following question: After an insured has secured a judgment requiring an insurer to provide independent counsel to the insured (see San Diego Fed. Credit Union v. Cumis Ins. Society Inc. (1984) 162 Cal.App.3d 358), can the insurer seek reimbursement of defense fees and costs it considers unreasonable and unnecessary by pursuing a reimbursement action against independent counsel or can the insurer seek reimbursement only from its insured?

Both matters will be heard in San Francisco on the 9:00 a.m. calendars. Under California rules, the Supreme Court must issue its decisions in the matters within 90 days after the argument.

Washington State: Insurer Prevails on Summary Judgment Due to Insured’s Lack of Prompt Notice

In HB Development, LLC, et al. v. Western Pacific Mutual Insurance, et al., Case No. 2:13-cv-5050-RMP (E.D.Wa. Feb. 6, 2015), the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Washington granted summary judgment in favor of the insurer, holding that a claims-made policy did not provide coverage because the insured did not provide timely notification of claims or potential claims to the insurer.

Western Pacific Mutual Insurance (“Western”) had issued claims-made commercial general liability coverage to a general contractor, HB Development, LLC, and its members, Fraser Hawley and Sharon Brown (collectively, “HB”) for a policy period from 2004 to 2010. Between 2007 and 2010, HB received complaints from two homeowners regarding defects in a home HB had built. HB never notified Western of these complaints, however. In 2012, after the Western policy period expired, the homeowners served written notice of their construction defect, property damage, and loss of use claims to HB, and provided Western with copies of the claims. Through its claim administrator, Western denied coverage for the claims. Subsequently, the homeowners filed a lawsuit against HB, and the parties reached a $600,000 settlement (later reduced to $420,000), in which HB assigned its rights against Western to the homeowners.

Continue reading Washington State: Insurer Prevails on Summary Judgment Due to Insured’s Lack of Prompt Notice

Application Exclusion Bars Coverage for Claims Arising from Known, Undisclosed Circumstance

A California Court of Appeal has affirmed a summary judgment in favor of the insurer on defense and indemnity with respect to claims that arose from circumstances known to the policyholder when it applied for professional liability insurance but that were not disclosed to the insurer in the application.  Crown Capital Securities, L.P. v. Endurance American Specialty Ins. Co. (Cal.Ct.App, 2d Dist., Div. 5, 4/10/15).  Because the application stated that a claim is excluded from coverage if arising from any undisclosed circumstance that was required to be disclosed in response to a question asked, and the application requested disclosure of circumstances that may result in a claim, the policyholder was not entitled to coverage for claims arising from the known but undisclosed circumstance.

Continue reading Application Exclusion Bars Coverage for Claims Arising from Known, Undisclosed Circumstance

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.

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

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.