Archives for Complex Insurance Liability

Colorado Supreme Court Holds That Violation of “No Voluntary Payments” Clause Precludes Coverage Regardless of Prejudice to Insurer

The Colorado Supreme Court held that a liability insurer has no obligation to indemnify a policyholder for a settlement made without the insurer’s consent and in violation of the policy’s “no voluntary payments” clause. In so doing, the Court rejected the argument that this clause is only enforceable if its violation resulted in prejudice to the insurer. In Travelers Prop. & Cas. Ins. Co. of Am. v. Stresscon, an insured subcontractor sought indemnification from its insurer for a claim made by a general contractor regarding a construction accident allegedly caused by a subcontractor of the insured. The subcontractor settled with
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Issues of Fact Preclude Summary Judgment in New York Trip and Fall Case

In Hines v. HSBC Bank USA, Inc., the Wayne County Supreme Court held that a Plaintiff in a trip and fall action provided enough proof of her negligence cause of action to create triable issues if fact that defeated Defendant’s summary judgment motion. The facts in Hines are relatively straightforward. Plaintiff Hines tripped and fell on the sidewalk outside of the HSBC Bank, where she was a regular customer, in what was later determined to be a small depression in the sidewalk. Under New York law, as an owner or possessor of a property open to the public, HSBC had
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New Jersey Court Holds Language of Lease Controls in Landlord and Tenant’s Dispute Over Sidewalk Liability

In an unpublished opinion, the Appellate Division of the New Jersey Superior Court found in favor a commercial tenant and against the landlord in an action that focused on the interpretation of the lease between the two parties to determine which party was responsible for maintenance and insurance of the common area sidewalk. In Senatore v. Kmart Inc., plaintiff brought suit against Kmart after falling on an allegedly defective portion of the sidewalk. Kmart, the tenant, tendered its defense to Belmont, the landlord, as an additional insured under Belmont’s policy. When Belmont’s insurer rejected the tender because Belmont had neglected
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New Jersey Appellate Court Finds Lack of Specificity in Causation of Negligence Claim Does Not Bar Suit

A New Jersey Appellate Court ruled that a plaintiff’s lack of specificity as to what caused her bicycle accident did not support the trial court’s finding that the plaintiff presented no evidence of causation to support her negligence claim. In Walter v. California Avenue Ventures LLC, the Appellate Court reversed the trial court’s summary judgment in favor of the defendants and found that the record established a triable issue of fact on whether the condition of the sidewalk caused plaintiff’s fall and subsequent injuries. In Walter, plaintiff was injured while riding her bike when she hit an object on the
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NJ Supreme Court Clarifies Amount Owed to Innocent Third Party for Bodily Injury Payment Under Voided “Basic” Auto Policy

The NJ Supreme Court recently examined the amount an insurer issuing a “basic” insurance policy, which was subsequently voided for material misrepresentation in the application for insurance, must pay for a bodily injury claim of an innocent third party. In Citizens United Reciprocal Exchange v. Perez, the Court determined that under New Jersey’s compulsory system of auto insurance, the auto insurer is liable to the innocent third party only for the statutory minimum bodily injury payment in circumstances where the insured elects to add the “basic” policy’s $10,000.00 coverage for third-party bodily injury. Notably, the Court also held that the
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NJ Supreme Court Declines to Extend Residential Public-Sidewalk Immunity to Homewoners Association (HOA) Privately Owned Sidewalks

Under New Jersey law, commercial property owners have a duty to maintain the sidewalks abutting their properties and can be held liable for injuries occurring on those sidewalks. Residential landowners, on the other hand, do not have the same responsibilities and are immune from claims for personal injuries on residential sidewalks. In the 2011 case of Luchejko v. City of Hoboken, the New Jersey Supreme Court extended residential sidewalk immunity to Homeowners Associations (“HOAs”) for injuries occurring on public sidewalks adjoining residential condominium communities. Recently, the Court addressed the issue of whether this immunity also applies to claims for personal
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Pennsylvania Supreme Court Adopts New Fair and Reasonable Standard When Insured Settles Without Insurer’s Consent

In an issue of first impression, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania recently addressed whether an insured forfeits the right to insurance coverage when it settles a lawsuit without the insurer’s consent, in a case where the insurer has defended the suit subject to a reservation of rights. In Babcock & Wilcox v. American Nuclear Insurers, the Court answered that question in the negative and adopted a fair and reasonable standard limited to those cases where an insured accepts a settlement offer after and insurer breaches its duty by refusing a fair and reasonable settlement while maintaining its reservation of rights,
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LAW360 Publishes Interesting Insurance Cases To Be Decided In Second Half of 2015

Here is the article: Insurance Cases To Watch In The 2nd Half Of 2015 Share us on: By Jeff Sistrunk Law360, Los Angeles (June 19, 2015, 3:21 PM ET) — Attorneys are eagerly awaiting the California Supreme Court’s decision on when policyholders can transfer insurance rights during mergers and corporate restructurings, and anticipating guidance from New York’s high court on complex allocation and exhaustion issues in asbestos lawsuits. Here are five cases that insurance attorneys will be tracking in the second half of the year. Fluor Corp. v. Superior Court The California Supreme Court is mulling over whether to disturb
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Third Circuit Federal Court of Appeals Rules That Punitive Damages Are Not Recoverable Against an Insurer

In an opinion predicting Pennsylvania state law, the Third Circuit Federal Court of Appeals ruled that punitive damages awarded against an insured in a personal injury suit are not recoverable in a later breach of contract or bad faith suit against the insurer. In Wolfe v. Allstate, the Court examined Pennsylvania’s long-standing public policy regarding the uninsurability of punitive damages and predicted that the Pennsylvania Supreme Court would conclude that, in a bad faith action against an insurer, an insured may not collect as compensatory damages the punitive damages awarded against the insured in the underlying suit. In this case,
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NY Top Court Affirms Bright Line Rule of Strict Liability for Injuries Caused by Dogs

Addressing two separate, but similar lawsuits involving bicycle collisions caused by dogs, a divided New York Court of Appeals held that the dogs’ owners could not be sued for negligence based on the owners’ inadequate supervision of the animals. In Doerr v. Goldsmith and Dobinski v. Lockhart, Plaintiffs were injured when they collided with unleashed dogs while riding their bicycles. Relying on longstanding precedent, the Court determined that Plaintiffs could not bring negligence causes of action against the dogs’ owners, since the only basis for suit under the law was a theory of strict liability by showing an animal’s vicious
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