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.
Continue reading...

New York Court Takes a Bite Out of Multiple Occurrences Argument

A New York Federal District Court recently held that an attack by two dogs upon two pedestrians constituted a single occurrence under the dog owners’ homeowners policy.  In so holding, the court rejected use of the “unfortunate events” test to determine the number of occurrences because the policy language required that all injuries arising from the same general conditions would be considered to be the result of one occurrence, regardless of the number of claimants.  As a result, the insurer’s
Continue reading...

Exceptional Circumstances are Required for Relief in a Claim for Bad Faith

In a favorable decision to insurers on the issue of bad faith, the New York Northern District was recently called upon to determine whether an insured under a Homeowner’s policy had stated a viable cause of action. In Ripka v. Safeco Ins., 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 67595 (N.D.N.Y May 26, 2015), the District Court made it clear that New York courts will not, except in very limited circumstances, award tort and punitive damages in addition to contract damages against insurers who deny claims.
Continue reading...

What’s That Smell? Supreme Court of New Hampshire Holds That Cat Urine Odor Constitutes First-Party Property Damage

In Mellen v. Northern Security Insurance Co., Inc., 2015 WL 1869572 (N.H. April 24, 2015), the Supreme Court of New Hampshire issued a declaratory judgment that a homeowners policyholder was entitled to first-party coverage for cat urine odor. The court further held that coverage was not barred by the pollution exclusion. The policyholders leased an apartment unit, but the tenant moved out in the middle of the lease term due to cat urine odor from the policyholders’ downstairs neighbor. After
Continue reading...

Florida Court of Appeals Permits Post-Loss Assignment of Benefits to Third Party

In Accident Cleaners, Inc. v. Universal Insurance Co., 2015 SL 1609973 (Fla. Ct.App. April 10, 2015) the Florida Court of Appeals, Fifth District held the assignee of benefits under an insurance policy was not required to have an insurable interest in the insured property at the time of loss. The court further held that so long as the assignor had an insurable interest in the insured property at the time of the loss, such insurable interest is imputed to the
Continue reading...