Archives for Insurance Law

Pennsylvania Federal Court Holds Shopping Center Tenant’s Insurer Has No Duty to Defend Landlord and Property Manager as Additional Insureds With Regard to Accident That Occurred Outside Tenant’s Premises

In Liberty Mutual Ins. Co. v. Selective Ins. Co. of America, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania considered a demand for defense and indemnification of a lawsuit concerning an accident at a shopping center. An employee of a tenant was seriously injured after falling on a purportedly defective sidewalk outside the tenant’s establishment during a break from work. The employee and his wife filed a negligence action against six entities that owned and/or managed the center. These entities referred the action to their liability insurer, which in turn demanded defense and indemnification from the tenant’s
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Eastern District of Pennsylvania Holds Insurer’s Denial of Uninsured Motorist Claim Brought by Policyholder Injured While Attempting to Prevent Robbery Was Not in Bad Faith

In Smerdon v. Geico Cas. Co., the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania examined an automobile insurer’s denial of an uninsured motorist claim. The claim concerned injuries sustained by the policyholder when she attempted to apprehend a robber of a store. Along with several other individuals, the policyholder chased the robber into the store’s parking lot. After the robber entered the vehicle, the policyholder opened the passenger door in an attempt to remove the keys from the ignition. The robber then started the vehicle, running over the policyholder and causing her to suffer serious injuries that
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California Appellate Court Reinstates Regulation Stipulating That Unfair Insurance Practices Act Claim May be Based Upon a Single Violation

In Pacificare Life and Health Ins. Co. v. Jones, the California Court of Appeal for the Fourth District reversed a trial court decision enjoining three recent regulations enacted by the California Insurance Commissioner with regard to the unfair claims settlement provisions of the state’s Unfair Insurance Practices Act. The first regulation at issue stated that the Act may be violated if a prohibited claims settlement practice is either “knowingly committed on a single occasion,” or “performed with such frequency as to indicate a general business practice.” The plaintiff insurer contended that this regulation was inconsistent with the Unfair Insurance Practices
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Middle District of Florida Applies Bar/Tavern Exclusion to Claim Tendered by Security Company

In Mt. Hawley Ins. Co. v. Tactic Security Enforcement et al., the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida examined a claim for the defense and indemnification of two lawsuits against the policyholder security company, alleging inadequate security with regard to shooting incidents at a facility where the policyholder provided services. The subject policy contained language excluding coverage for “[a]ny and all operations involving bars, taverns, gentlemen’s clubs and nightclubs.” The plaintiff insurer brought an action seeking a declaratory judgment that it was not required to provide coverage. At trial, the sole issue for the jury was
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New Jersey Court Remands Summary Judgment in Favor of Insurers in Superstorm Sandy Policy Dispute Due to Trial Court’s Failure to Specify Grounds for Decision

In Doerfler v. Federal Ins. Co., the Appellate Division of the New Jersey Superior Court examined lawsuits brought by a policyholder against two insurers with regard to the denial of claims for damage to a residence arising from Superstorm Sandy. In each case, the insurer had denied coverage based upon the policy’s surface water exclusion. The policyholder asserted breach of contract and bad faith claims against the insurers. The bad faith claims were severed pending resolution of the breach of contract claims. Following discovery, the trial court granted the defendant insurers’ motions for summary judgment and denied the plaintiffs’ cross-motions
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Pennsylvania Superior Court Reverses $21 Million Verdict Against Automobile Insurer Regarding Decision to Repair Rather Than Total Vehicle

In Berg v. Nationwide Mut. Ins. Co., the Pennsylvania Superior Court examined a lengthy dispute arising from a first-party automobile insurance claim. After an accident, the initial damage estimate determined that the insured vehicle should be declared a total loss. The insurer subsequently concluded that the vehicle was repairable and directed a collision facility to undertake repairs. The plaintiff policyholders alleged that the repairs were insufficient and that the vehicle was left with permanent frame damage rendering it unable to withstand a collision. The policyholders filed suit against the insurer and repair facility, asserting claims for breach of contract, insurance
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New York Federal Court Holds That Arbitrators Must Decide Whether Party Waived Right to Arbitrate

In Syngenta Crop Protection, LLC v. Ins. Co. of North America, the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York addressed an action against a liability insurer for coverage for asbestos claims. The policyholder first notified the insurer of the claims in 1999. The insurer responded with a reservation of rights letter explaining why the claims may not be covered. However, the insurer took no further action on the claims. In 2008, the policyholder made a formal demand for indemnification. In 2017, the insurer finally issued a denial of coverage. In its denial, the insurer asserted for
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New Jersey Appellate Court Holds That There is No Coverage for Domestic Violence Under a Standard Liability Policy

In D.G. v. B.E.A., the New Jersey Superior Court, Appellate Division addressed a demand for a homeowners’ liability insurer to provide defense and indemnification of a lawsuit raising allegations of domestic violence. The insurer denied coverage on the grounds that the lawsuit did not raise allegations of an “occurrence” as required by the policy, and also because the lawsuit fell within an exclusion for injuries “expected” or “Intended” by the policyholder. The policyholder claimed that the lawsuit should be covered because he was extremely intoxicated at the time of the incident and was unable to form an intent to cause
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New Jersey Appellate Court Holds That Insurer’s Decision to Provide “Courtesy Defense” of Non-Covered Action Does Not Constitute Estoppel

In Northfield Ins. Co. v. Mt. Hawley Ins. Co., the New Jersey Superior Court, Appellate Division, examined a declaratory judgment action brought by a property owner’s insurer against a contractor’s liability insurer. The case arose from a roof installation performed by the contractor and a subcontractor at a hotel in the summer of 2012. Shortly after the work was completed, Superstorm Sandy struck the property, causing roof damage and water damage to the hotel’s interior. The hotel’s property insurer advised the contractor’s insurer of a potential claim. The contractor’s insurer rejected the claim, determining that the damage at issue was
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New York Court of Appeals Rejects “Unavailability of Insurance” Exception In Long-Tail Allocation Cases

In KeySpan Gas East Corp. v. Munich Reinsurance Am., Inc., the New York Court of Appeals examined an action against a liability insurer for indemnification of long-tail environmental damage. The plaintiff power company owned two manufactured gas plants that began operations in the late 1880s and early 1900s, and had remained in operation for several decades. After the plants had ceased operations, a state environmental agency detected long-term environmental damage at both sites arising from contaminants seeping into the ground and leeching into groundwater. The power company was required to perform expensive clean-up operations at both sites. The power company
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