Calling all Policies! N.J. Special Master Allocating Costs under Owens-Illinois Implicates Excess Before Primary Exhausts

In The Travelers Indemnity Company v. Thomas & Betts Corporation, No. 13-6187, 2017 WL 3187217 (D.N.J. July 26, 2017), New Jersey’s federal court offers a meaningful example of how trial courts can use a special master to help resolve the tricky issue of allocating defense and indemnity costs involving multiple policies, layers, and years. In Owens-Illinois, Inc. v. United Ins. Co., the Supreme Court of New Jersey urged trial courts to use a special master with “a substantial measure of
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New York Court Denies Reinstatement of STOLI Policies for Lack of Standing, Finds Issue of Fact on Good Faith and Fair Dealing

The plaintiff was an investment trust that purchased life insurance contracts. It brought the instant action seeking damages for the insurer’s alleged breach of nine lapsed life insurance policies on three different individuals with a collective face value of over $80 million. It was undisputed that all nine policies were pieces of a “Stranger Originated Life Insurance” or “STOLI” transaction. Although purchasing life insurance with the intent of selling it to strangers became illegal in 2009, these transactions were legal at the time the policies in
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Catch-All RORs? South Carolina Again Says No

The South Carolina Supreme Court reaffirmed that when an insurer reserves rights to deny coverage, the specific grounds stated in the insurer’s reservation of rights letter are critical. In reaffirming a much-discussed decision from earlier this year, the court refused to consider policy defenses asserted by an insurer because the insurer failed to properly reserve its rights to contest coverage. According to the opinion, the insurer’s letter (1) failed to notify the policyholders of the particular grounds upon which it
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Insurance Making a Summer Splash in Hot Washington, D.C. — Senate Votes to Start Healthcare Debate and Trump Signs Covered Agreement with EU

Amidst the sizzling news of investigations and conversations about North Korea and terrorism, insurance is making its own headlines in the nation’s capital this summer. Congress is debating repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the Trump Administration has signed off on the Covered Agreement with the European Union. Most of the insurance news out of Washington, D.C. is centered on Republican efforts to repeal and replace the ACA. Several packages are currently on the table. In May
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Pennsylvania Court Rejects Manifestation Trigger for Latent Property Damage Claims

The Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania recently determined that the multiple trigger rule, and not the manifestation rule, is the proper standard to use when determining whether an insurance policy is triggered in an environmental property damage claim involving a long latency period between exposure and manifestation. See Pennsylvania Manufacturers’ Association Insurance Company v. Johnson Matthey, Inc., et al., 2017 WL 1418401 (Pa. Commw. Ct. Apr. 21, 2017), This decision, which is at odds with statements by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court
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The Road Less Traveled: In a Case of First Impression, Indiana Court of Appeals Holds SIR Applicable to Additional Insureds

In Walsh Construction Co. v. Zurich American Insurance Co., 2017 Ind. App. LEXIS 137 (Mar. 28, 2017), the Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of Zurich American Insurance Company and against Walsh Construction Company. In a case of first impression, the Court of Appeals held that a self-insured retention (SIR) applied not only to the insurer’s relationship with the named insured, but also, to any additional insureds. Thus, because the named insured
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Intoxication Not a Defense to Expected or Intended Injury Exclusion, Massachusetts Appellate Court Says

In Liberty Mutual Fire Insurance Co. v. Casey, 91 Mass. App. Ct. 243 (Mar. 29, 2017), the Massachusetts Appeals Court held in essence, that the insured (Casey)’s impairment due to alcohol and drugs at the time of the underlying assault did not render the insurance policy’s expected or intended exclusion inapplicable. The undisputed facts established that Casey had the capacity to form the requisite intent to injure the underlying plaintiff. Seventeen-year-old Casey “sucker punched” Williams, the underlying plaintiff, in the
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Minnesota Supreme Court Limits Insurers’ Extracontractual Liability: An Insured’s Recovery of “Proceeds Awarded” for Insurer’s Unreasonable Denial of Benefits Must Consider Policy Limit

In Wilbur v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co., No. A15-1438 (Minn. April 5, 2017), the Minnesota Supreme Court greatly limited the insured’s recovery under the First-Party Bad Faith Statute, Section (Minn. Stat. § 604.18). Although State Farm was found to have unreasonably denied John Wilbur benefits under his underinsured-motorist policy, the calculation of his recovery for “proceeds awarded” had to take into account the policy’s limit of liability. As background, on January 10, 2009, Wilbur suffered serious neck injuries
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Plain Language, Surplus, and Reasonable Expectations: Utah Supreme Court Uses Entire Contract Construction Toolbox in Concluding Policy Inapplicable to Botched Real Estate Deal

In Compton v. Houston Casualty Co., 2017 UT 17 (Mar. 23, 2017), the Utah Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of Houston Casualty Company , holding that Houston Casualty had no duty to defend or indemnify its insured in an underlying real estate transaction gone bad. Essentially, Utah’s high court held that because the insured did not provide services “for a fee” in the underlying transaction, the underlying plaintiffs were barred from coverage under
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Frankly, My Dear, I Don’t Give a “Dam”: Seventh Circuit Holds Professional Liability Insurer Off the Hook in Neighborhood Dispute Tangentially Related to Unobtained Dam Permit

In Madison Mutual Insurance Co. v. Diamond State Insurance Co., No. 15-3292 (7th Cir. Mar. 21, 2017), the Seventh Circuit handed down a decision delineating the obligations between a professional liability insurer and a homeowner’s insurer. At bottom, the court refused to hold a professional liability insurer responsible for the defense of a suit that only tangentially referencing the insured’s professional services. As background, Dr. William and Wendy Dribben purchased a house in 1999 at Heartland Oaks, an exclusive development.
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