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
Congratulations to partner Terrance Evans, of the San Francisco office, on his appointment as Vice Chair of the ABA National Insurance Coverage Conference, the largest insurance coverage conference in the country. Mr. Evans follows in the footsteps of partner Ray Wong, of the San Francisco office, who served as Chair and Vice Chair of the conference, and partner Dominica Anderson, of the Las Vegas office, who served as Vice Chair of the conference.
Duane Morris LLP is pleased to announce that Tomas M. Thompson and Mark A. Bradford have joined the firm’s Trial Practice Group as partners in the firm’s Chicago office. Thompson and Bradford, who join from DLA Piper, follow the addition in the firm’s Chicago office of partners Mark D. Belongia and Lisa T. Scruggs, associate David B. Shafer and associate Brian L. Dougherty.
Duane Morris is pleased to announce that partner Paul J. Killion of the firm’s San Francisco office will receive a Burton Award for Legal Achievement at a gala ceremony to be held on June 9, 2014, at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. This honor is given to only 30 authors selected from entries from the nation’s 1,000 largest law firms.
Killion was selected as a 2014 Distinguished Legal Writing Award winner for an article he wrote about how to use Internet sources in legal writing. “Warning: The Internet May Contain Traces of Nuts (Or, When and How to Cite to Internet Sources)” appeared in California Litigation: The Journal of the Litigation Section, State Bar of California, last spring.
Insurers often rely upon coverage counsel to advise them of their duties and obligations with respect to claims for coverage by their insureds and then take that advice and communicate it in whole or in part to their insureds. The expectation is that the advice of counsel is privileged even if it is thereafter embraced by the insurer and communicated to the insured. But is it? No, said a trial court in West Virginia, where an insured sought from coverage counsel for the insurer opinion letters the counsel had written to the insurer on similar claims (i.e., claims not involved in the litigation between the insured and the insurer). Continue reading What I Tell You is Privileged and Protected From Discovery (Even if You Embrace It and Reiterate It to Your Insured)
Duane Morris’ Cyndie M. Chang, a partner in the firm’s Los Angeles office, will be speaking at the American Bar Association (ABA) Tort Trial and Insurance Practice Section’s spring conference, “Resolution of Property Insurance Claims in the Modern Age-Appraisal, Mediation and Arbitration,” which will be held on April 24-26, 2014, at the Park Hyatt Aviara in Carlsbad, California. Ms. Chang will participate in a panel discussion on “Mock Mediation of a Property Insurance Claim: Focusing on Preparation as the Key to Success” on Thursday, April 24, from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
In a decision notable for several reasons, the New York State Court of Appeals—the state’s highest court—reversed itself in K2 Investment Group, LLC v. American Guarantee & Liability Insurance Co. [21 NY3d 384 (2014)] and reaffirmed its earlier ruling in Servidone Construction Corp. v. Security Insurance Company of Hartford [64 NY2d 419 (1985)].
In doing so, the court reestablished the rule it pronounced in Servidone when it held that a liability insurer who determines not to provide a defense to its insured may still contest its duty to indemnify on the basis of an exclusion to coverage.
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The California Supreme Court issued an important decision last week that potentially impacts all California litigation, including insurance coverage litigation. In Kurwa v. Kislinger, __Cal.4th __ (October 3, 2013) (Supreme Court No. S201619), the Supreme Court held it is not possible to create an appealable final judgment by dismissing remaining causes of action without prejudice and tolling the applicable statute of limitations. This resolves an important split in California appellate courts on the one final judgment rule. The issue commonly arises when parties attempt to move a case into the appellate court after the trial court has resolved the key issues, but some causes of action remain.
In a ruling upholding the concept that “words have meaning”, a United States District Court interpreting South Carolina law denied coverage to an insured which had a claim made against it in one policy period but did not report the claim to its insurer until the next policy period even though the insured was continually insured by the same insurer. Rather, the Court held in essence that a requirement that claims be “made-and-reported in the policy period” actually means that claims that claims must be made and reported in the same policy period and coverage will not be extended merely because the insured renews its policy.
The New York Court of Appeals rendered a decision June 11, 2013 holding “when a liability insurer has breached its duty to defend its insured, the insurer may not later rely on Policy exclusions” to avoid indemnification.
The ruling in K2 Investment Group, LLC, et al v. American Guarantee & Liability Insurance Company, 2013 NY Slip op. 4270 (N.Y., June 11, 2013) will significantly affect an insurer’s assessment of its duty to defend a claim tendered under a liability policy. The court held an insurer may be deprived of the ability to contest coverage for the indemnity of a claim when it determines not to afford a defense to the insured.