Archives for Insurance Law

Eastern District of Pennsylvania Dismisses Declaratory Judgment Action Brought by Insurer to Determine Its Duty to Defend and Indemnify as Premature

In First Specialty Insurance Corp. v. Hudson Palmer Homes, Inc., the district court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania considered a declaratory judgment action brought by an insurer to determine the scope of its duty to defend and indemnify the insured, a home builder, in connection with ten construction defect lawsuits brought against it. None of those cases had been ruled upon when the declaratory judgment action was filed. The insured filed a Motion to Dismiss on the basis that the insurer’s action was not ripe for adjudication. The court, applying the three factors set forth in Step-Saver Data Sys.,
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New Jersey Appellate Division Affirms Summary Judgment for Insurer in Coverage Dispute by Landlord Seeking Additional Coverage for Property Damage Caused by a Sewer Backup in A Tenant’s Restaurant

In Salih v. Ohio Security Insurance Co., the New Jersey Superior Court, Appellate Division, considered a coverage dispute between a landlord and its insurer involving a demand from the landlord for additional coverage under the lost business income provision of the policy for property damage caused by a sewage backup. The court affirmed the trial court’s award of summary judgment to the insurer, holding that the unambiguous language of the business income provision of the policy and a custom endorsement did not provide additional coverage over the sublimit set forth in the endorsement. The landlord argued that the business income
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New Jersey Appellate Division Finds in Favor of Tenant and its Insurer in Coverage Dispute Between a Tenant and Its Insurer Against the Landlord

In Lopez v. Palin Enterprises, the New Jersey Superior Court, Appellate Division, considered a tenant’s duty to defend its landlord against a personal injury suit brought by the tenant’s employee. In this insurance coverage dispute, the landlord filed a third-party action against the tenant and its insurer, Wausau, seeking primary coverage as an additional insured under the Wausau policy and contractual indemnification from the tenant. The trial court determined that Wausau was required to provide the landlord with primary coverage and that the tenant was required under the terms of the lease to indemnify the landlord for its own negligence.
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Third Circuit Authorizes New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act Claim Against Automobile Insurer Regarding Allegedly Fraudulent Procurement of Release

In Alpizar-Fallas v. Favero, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit examined a putative class action arising from an automobile accident allegedly resulting in injuries. Both the injured party and the other driver were insured by the same company. On the day after the accident, the injured party was contacted by a claims adjuster for the insurer, who asked that he visit her home later that day. When the adjuster visited, he purportedly requested that the injured party sign certain documents, claiming that this would expedite the handling of her claim. The injured party (whose native language
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New Jersey Appellate Court Upholds Denial of Businessowners Liability Coverage for Accident Involving Mechanical Lift Attached to Truck

In Ruffa v. Ruffa, the Appellate Division of the New Jersey Superior Court examined an insurance coverage dispute arising from an accident involving a box truck. The defendant purchased the box truck for his catering business. The truck included a hydraulic lift. A warning printed on the lift directed that individuals should not ride on its platform. The truck’s owner manual also cautioned against using the lift as a wheelchair or personnel lift. The day after the defendant purchased the truck, he was installing shelving in the truck when his four-year old son accidentally activated the lift. The child’s arm
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New York Trial Court Vacates Jury Verdict Against Liability Insurer Due to Plaintiff’s Change of Position From Underlying Tort Action

In Riconda v. Liberty Insurance Underwriters, Inc., the Supreme Court of Suffolk County, New York examined a motion to set aside a $2.8 million verdict entered against a directors & officers insurer in a coverage dispute. The litigation concerned the sale of a corporation in which the purchase price was never paid, and the purchasing entity ultimately declared bankruptcy. The owner who sold the corporation instituted an action against the directors and officers of the purchasing entity for fraud, self-dealing, and breach of fiduciary duty. The directors and officers sought a defense from their directors & officers liability insurer, which
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New Jersey Appellate Division Holds That ATVs Are Not “Private Passenger Vehicles” Covered Under Automobile Insurance Policy

In Starner v. Haemmerle, the Appellate Division of the New Jersey Superior Court considered an action arising from an accident involving an all-terrain vehicle driven on a public road by a fourteen-year old girl, who drove the vehicle with the permission of its adult owner. The ATV flipped, injuring one of the passengers. As the ATV was uninsured, the driver sought coverage for the accident under her parents’ automobile policy, which provided coverage for accidents involving non-owned private passenger automobiles driven by an insured or resident relative. The term “private passenger automobile” was defined in the policy as “a four-wheel
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Middle District of Pennsylvania Holds That UIM Insurance Action Arising From 2003 Accident Timely When Filed Shortly After 2016 Coverage Denial

In Legos v. Travelers Cas. Co. of Conn., the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania examined an underinsured motorist insurance claim arising from a 2003 automobile accident. The injured party filed a writ of summons against the other driver in 2005, followed by a lawsuit in 2006. Shortly thereafter, the injured party filed an underinsured motorist claim with his automobile insurer. The insurer acknowledged receiving the claim. In 2012, the injured party settled his action against the driver. In 2016, the injured party’s insurer sent a letter advising that the statute of limitations on the UIM
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New Jersey Appellate Division Holds That Failure to Disclose Excess Nature of Coverage on Certificate of Insurance Does Not Constitute a Misrepresentation

In The State-Operated School District of the City of Paterson v. American Alternative Ins. Co., the New Jersey Superior Court, Appellate Division examined allegations of misrepresentation by a transportation company retained by a school district to transport its students. The school district solicited bids for companies to provide transportation, noting in its bid specifications that the selected company must obtain insurance (including automobile liability insurance) naming the school district as an additional insured. The transportation company chosen by the school district entered into a contract requiring it to obtain such insurance. The company was also required to provide a certificate
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Pennsylvania Superior Court Holds That Vehicle Dismantling Exclusion Does Not Apply to Liability Insurance Claim Regarding Fueling Accident

In Tuscarora Wayne Ins. Co. v. Hebron, Inc., the Pennsylvania Superior Court reviewed a declaratory judgment action brought by a commercial general liability insurer regarding an incident at the insured’s vehicle dismantling facility. While one of the policyholder’s employees was fueling a flatbed truck, a fire started that caused damage to the facility, as well as neighboring vehicles and businesses. The subject policy contained an endorsement providing that the insurance did not apply to “property damage arising out of” the policyholder’s operations, which were identified as “vehicle dismantling.” The term “vehicle dismantling” was not defined in the policy. The liability
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