New Jersey Appellate Court Affirms Insured Win in Declaratory Judgment Action on Basis That the Language of the Assault and Battery Exclusion Was Ambiguous

In CMS Investment Ventures, Inc. et al. v American European Insurance Company et al., the New Jersey Appellate Division examined a trial court’s granting of declaratory judgment in favor of an insured. The insured landlord filed a claim for defense and indemnification after a tenant who was sexually assaulted in her apartment filed suit under a theory of premises liability. The insurer denied coverage under the Assault and Battery Exclusion of the policy. The trial court found in favor of the insured, holding that the Exclusion was ambiguous and that the insurer was estopped from denying coverage due to a
Read More

New Jersey Supreme Court Holds That Injured Motorists Cannot Recover PIP Benefits In Excess of Policy PIP Limits

In Haines v. Taft, the New Jersey Supreme Court considered whether injured motorists who chose the $15,000 insurance minimum for PIP benefits can seek admission of evidence regarding medical expenses in excess of the minimum amount. The Court examined whether the New Jersey Legislature intended to deviate from its highly regulated no-fault system of first-party self-insurance to cover medical expenses arising from automobile accidents when it amended the Automobile Insurance Cost Reduction Act (“AICRA”) to allow an insured to elect smaller amounts of PIP coverage. Finding that there was no evidence of a clear intent by the Legislature to deviate
Read More

USDC for the Middle District of Florida Holds That A Policyholder Must First Prove Breach of the Policy Before Pursuing a Claim for Bad Faith

In Grey Oaks Country Club v. Zurich American Insurance Company, the District Court for the Middle District of Florida examined whether a policyholder could sustain a cause of action for bad faith against an insurer simultaneously with a coverage action. Relying on well-settled Florida case law, the court held that plaintiff’s bad faith claim was premature because a bad faith cause of action does not accrue until there is a determination of both liability and damages in the coverage case. Accordingly, plaintiff’s bad faith count was dismissed without prejudice. Grey Oaks Country Club brought suit against Zurich for damages to
Read More

New York Trial Court Denies Bar Owner’s Motion for Summary Judgment After Plaintiff’s Expert Affidavit Creates Fact Issues Regarding Reasonableness of Security Measures at Bar

In Gaskin v. OBMP-NY LLC, the New York Supreme Court considered a personal injury suit against a bar owner, his landlord and the bar’s security company for injuries arising from a fight that broke out in the bar. OBMP-NY, the bar owner who leased the property from landlord 701 West 135, orally contracted 5Points to provide security services for the bar. Plaintiff sought to impose liability on 701 West 135 under the theory that the landlord could not avoid liability under Real Property Law § 231, which provides that the owner of real property who knowingly leases it to be
Read More

New Jersey Appellate Division Affirms Summary Judgment for Insurer in Coverage Dispute Seeking Payment for Personal Property Loss Following a Fire at the Insured Property

In Thomas v. Allstate New Jersey Insurance Company, the New Jersey Superior Court, Appellate Division, considered a coverage dispute between the insurer and a person living at the insured property for loss of personal property. Plaintiff was not a named insured under the policy and was not a relative of the named insured. The court affirmed the trial court’s award of summary judgment to the insurer, agreeing with the trial court that coverage was not owed because plaintiff was neither a named insured under the policy or a resident of the household who was related to the named insured. Plaintiff
Read More

New Jersey Grants Summary Judgment to Insurer in Coverage Dispute by Another Insurer Seeking Reimbursement of Defense and Indemnification Costs for a Mutual Insured

In Ace American Insurance Company v. Penn National Insurance Company, the New Jersey Superior Court, Bergen County, considered a coverage dispute between two insurers providing insurance to a mutual insured for reimbursement of defense and indemnification costs associated with the settlement of a suit against the insured general contractor. The court held that the suit was barred by the applicable six-year statute of limitations, which began to accrue when an enforceable settlement was reached in the underlying action, and granted summary judgment in favor of the defendant insurer. In this case, Ace provided general liability insurance to the insured, while
Read More

Eastern District of Pennsylvania Grants Summary Judgment to Store in Slip and Fall Negligence Action

In Thomas v. Family Dollar Stores of Pennsylvania, LLC, the district court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania considered a premises liability action brought by a shopper due to injuries she received when she slipped and fell in a thick, yellow substance on the floor of an aisle at a Family Dollar retail store. The court granted summary judgment to the store, holding that Family Dollar owed no duty to the shopper and that no evidence existed that could show Family Dollar had constructive notice of the spill prior to the shopper’s fall. Plaintiff argued that Family Dollar was negligent
Read More

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.,
Read More

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
Read More

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.
Read More