New Jersey Appellate Court Holds That Life Insurer is Not Equitably Estopped From Declining to Reinstate Policy When Policyholder Died Before Satisfying Policy Requirements for Reinstatement

In Nationwide Life Ins. Co. v. Thompson, the Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division, considered a dispute over life insurance policy proceeds. The subject policy had been cancelled for non-payment of premium after two notices and the expiration of a sixty-one day grace period. Shortly after receiving notice of the cancellation, the policyholder contacted the insurer to request reinstatement. The policy language stated that the policy could be reinstated while the policyholder was alive if the policyholder applied for reinstatement within three years of cancellation, provided satisfactory evidence of insurability, and paid three months of premiums. The policyholder satisfied
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New Jersey Appellate Division Affirms Summary Judgment for Defendant in Premises Liability Action Due to Absence of Actual or Constructive Knowledge of Dangerous Condition

In Kurc v. All Star One, the Appellate Division of the New Jersey Superior Court analyzed a lawsuit arising from an accident at a cheerleading practice. While walking to meet her granddaughter at the end of the practice, the plaintiff stepped on a mat in order to avoid a child sitting on another mat in the walkway. The mat moved as the plaintiff was stepping off it, causing her to fall and injure her wrist. The plaintiff brought a negligence action against several parties connected with the facility where the accident occurred. The defendants filed a motion for summary judgment,
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Statutory Cause of Action for Insurance Bad Faith Remains Under Consideration by New Jersey Legislature

In a recent note, we discussed the New Jersey Legislature’s consideration of the Insurance Fair Conduct Act, which would establish a statutory cause of action for the bad faith handling of insurance claims. On April 12, 2018, the New Jersey Senate approved an amendment of the bill to exclude insurance producers and public entities. The bill remains under consideration before the Legislature. We will continue to monitor the progress of the bill and advise of further developments.
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New Jersey Legislature to Consider Statutory Bad Faith Cause of Action for Insurance Claims

The New Jersey Senate will soon vote on a bill that would establish a statutory cause of action for the bad faith handling of insurance claims. If enacted, the New Jersey Insurance Fair Conduct Act would create a private cause of action for “an unreasonable delay or unreasonable denial of a claim for payment of benefits under an insurance policy.” The Insurance Fair Conduct Act would also create a private cause of action for any insurance unfair trade practices prohibited by N.J. Stat. 17:29B-4, including: misrepresentations of policy contracts; false advertising; defamation; unfair discrimination; and unfair claim settlement practices. The
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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 Jersey Appellate Court Holds Negligence Claims May be Pursued Against Apartment Landlords for Failure to Cover Radiators

In J.H. v. R&M Tagliareni, LLC, the New Jersey Superior Court, Appellate Division, examined a lawsuit regarding burns to an infant. The infant was staying at the apartment of his stepmother’s sister and sleeping on a bed next to a radiator. While sleeping, the infant rested his head against the radiator and suffered third-degree burns. The burns resulted in permanent scarring. The radiator was controlled by a shut-off valve, and became extremely hot once the valve was opened. There was no thermostat to control the temperature of the radiator. While some radiators in the apartment building had been covered several
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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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Washington Court of Appeals Holds That Statutory Bad Faith and Consumer Protection Claims May be Pursued Against Insurance Adjusters

In Keodalah v. Allstate Ins. Co., the Washington Court of Appeals reviewed an action against an insurer and an adjuster employed by the insurer for statutory insurance bad faith and violation of the state’s Consumer Protection Act, concerning the allegedly improper settlement of an underinsured motorist claim. The trial court dismissed the statutory bad faith and consumer protection act claims against the adjuster, on the grounds that such claims could not be pursued against employees of the insurer. The Court of Appeals began its analysis by noting that the Washington insurance bad faith statute imposes a duty of good faith
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