K2 Investment: The New York Court of Appeals’ Recent Ruling Has Significant Impact on an Insurer’s Assessment of its Duty to Defend a Claim Under a Liability 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.

Continue reading “K2 Investment: The New York Court of Appeals’ Recent Ruling Has Significant Impact on an Insurer’s Assessment of its Duty to Defend a Claim Under a Liability Policy”

7th Circuit Upholds Prior Knowledge Provision in Claims-Made Policy

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals decided on April 2, 2013 that an Indiana law firm was not entitled to coverage for a claim made and reported in a second policy period where the insured reasonably had knowledge that a claim might be made during the first policy period. Koransky, Bouwer & Poracky v. The Bar Plan Mutual Insurance Co., No. 12-1579, 2013 U.S. App. LEXIS 6558 (7th Cir. Apr. 2, 2013). As the Court noted (in affirming a District Court decision to the same effect), “a reasonable attorney would have recognized that his failure [to deliver a contract during the first policy period] . . .was an omission that could reasonably be expected to be the basis of a malpractice claim.” Continue reading “7th Circuit Upholds Prior Knowledge Provision in Claims-Made Policy”

Exhausting Policy Limits When Settling Less than All Lawsuits

In his latest article, Thomas R. Newman explains his thoughts on handling multiple claims with insufficient limits to cover an insured’s total potential exposure, when not all of the claims are settled.

Mr. Newman practices in the areas of insurance and reinsurance law, including coverage, claims handling, contract drafting and arbitration and litigation. He has served as lead counsel in more than 55 reinsurance arbitrations, representing both cedents and reinsurers. He is often called upon to act as an expert witness in insurance cases in the United States and in London.

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San Francisco Trial Court Is First California Court To Adopt The Wallace & Gale Approach To Asbestos Operations Claims

In what is the first trial court ruling in California on the issue, to our knowledge, the San Francisco Superior Court on January 31, 2013 issued a ruling adopting the Wallace & Gale approach to the completed operations issue for asbestos claims. The decision was issued by San Francisco Superior Court Judge John E. Munter in Phase III of Plant Insulation Co. v. Fireman’s Fund Insurance Co., et al., a multi-phase declaratory relief action pending in San Francisco.

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The California Supreme Court Will Take Another Look At Henkel

On December 12, 2012, the California Supreme Court granted review in Fluor Corporation v. Superior Court (2012) 208 Cal.App.4th 1506, previously commented upon in this blog. The issue on review, as stated on the Supreme Court’s website, is: “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?”

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A Missing Policy Must Be Proven By More Than “Unscientific Speculation Offered by a Genuine Scientist”

In a recent decision of a federal district court, frequent policyholder expert Robert Hughes’ opinions regarding the terms and conditions of a missing policy were flatly rejected as “bald speculation,” resulting in summary judgment for an insurer. (See, attached Canal Ins. Co. v. Montello, Inc., 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 148119.)

In an instructive case that has potentially broad application to a common issue in complex insurance coverage litigation–proof of the terms and conditions of a missing policy–the Court rejected as speculation Mr. Hughes’s opinions, notwithstanding his long C.V. reflecting 50 years of experience in the insurance industry. Continue reading “A Missing Policy Must Be Proven By More Than “Unscientific Speculation Offered by a Genuine Scientist””

London Market Insurers Prevail Against BP in Insurance Buyback Dispute

The California Court of Appeal has affirmed a judgment that certain Underwriters at Lloyd’s, London and certain London market insurance companies (London Market Insurers) were entitled to consider all subsidiaries as part of an insurance buyback agreement they had with one of the world’s largest oil companies. On September 13, 2012, a three-judge panel of the First District Court of Appeal issued an opinion in Certain Underwriters at Lloyd’s, London v. BP America, Inc., et al., Case No. A132298. At issue was more than $1 billion in liability insurance placed by the Atlantic Richfield Company (ARCO) in the London insurance market.

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The California Court of Appeal Says Nice Try To Attempt to Overturn The California Supreme Court’s Henkel Decision Based on an 1872 Statute

On August 30, 2012, Division Three of the California Court of Appeal for the Fourth District put to rest a new argument devised by policyholders to attack the California Supreme Court’s seminal consent-to-assignment ruling in Henkel Corp. v. Hartford Acc. & Indem. Co., 29 Cal.4th 934 (2003). See Fluor Corp. v. Superior Court (Slip Opn. dated Aug. 30, 2012) (Fourth Dist. No. G045579)

The Fluor case involved the same consent-to-assignment clause at issue in Henkel: “Assignment of interest under this policy shall not bind the Company until its consent is endorsed hereon.” (See Henkel, supra, 29 Cal.4th at 943.) Continue reading “The California Court of Appeal Says Nice Try To Attempt to Overturn The California Supreme Court’s Henkel Decision Based on an 1872 Statute”

Was The Wallace & Gale Holding Rejected In The API Case?

Some policyholders cite the Minnesota trial court decision in St. Paul Fire and Marine vs. A.P.I. Inc. (Minn. Dist. Court, Ramsey County, No. C9-02-8084, J. Finley Order dated May 13, 2004) as rejecting the Fourth Circuit’s holding in In re Wallace & Gale Co., 385 F.3d 820 (4th Cir. 2004). The argument is incorrect for several reasons.

First, Judge Finley’s May 2004 decision in API did not even address the core holding in Wallace & Gale but rather simply ruled on the burden of proof issue, concluding that it was insurers’ burden to prove that the claims fell within the completed operations hazard. Continue reading “Was The Wallace & Gale Holding Rejected In The API Case?”