Brandon Zeller

All articles by Brandon Zeller

 

Fifth Circuit: False Imprisonment Caused “Bodily Injury” During Subsequent Policy Periods Sufficient to Trigger Coverage

In a notable deviation from decisions across the country, the Fifth Circuit recently ruled that injuries from false imprisonment could be sustained after the actual false imprisonment itself ended, triggering two insurers’ duty to defend. Travelers Indem. Co. v. Mitchell, No. 17-60291, 2019 WL 2276694 (5th Cir. May 29, 2019). The insurers, whose policies did not come into existence until after the false imprisonment ended, were found obligated to defend a Mississippi County in a civil rights lawsuit stemming from
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ALI’s Restatement of Liability Insurance Advocates a “Split-the-Baby” Approach to Allocation of Long-Tail Claims

“All sums” or “pro rata” – which one is the majority view for allocation of long-trail claims? Well, after eight years of iterative revision, the proposed final draft no. 2 of ALI’s Restatement of the Law, Liability Insurance was approved in May 2018. The restatement has received very critical feedback from both sides, chiefly that the ALI has abandoned its mission to “restate” common law in favor of advocating what the law should be. One of the more hotly contested sections
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Supreme Court of Georgia Raises the Bar for Bad Faith Claimants

In a long-anticipated ruling, the Supreme Court of Georgia clarified the state’s law on the prerequisites for an insured to sue its insurance carrier for bad faith failure to settle. The court asked the parties to address a specific question: does an insurer’s duty to settle arise only when an injured party presents a valid offer to settle within the insured’s policy limits or, even absent such an offer, does a duty arise when the insurer knows or reasonably should
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This is No “Accident”: Ohio Court Rules CGL Policy Doesn’t Cover Shoddy Subcontractor Work

One of the ongoing battles in construction defect coverage law around the country is whether a general contractor’s commercial general liability (“CGL”) policy obligates the insurer to defend and indemnify the general contractor in a lawsuit based on faulty work performed—not by the general contractor—but on its behalf by a subcontractor. Yesterday, Ohio joined a small minority of states when its high court ruled that damage from a subcontractor’s faulty work is not an accident triggering an insurer’s defense obligation.
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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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Bad Faith Without Dishonest Motive, Self-Interest, or Ill-Will? Pennsylvania Supreme Court to Decide

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has agreed to review an appellate court decision in Rancosky v. Washington National Insurance Company, a case dealing with whether a showing of “dishonest motive” or “ill-will” is necessary to prove that an insurance company acted in bad faith. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s forthcoming decision will be its first word on the definition of “bad faith” as used in the Pennsylvania bad faith statute. In Rancosky, a husband and wife, both cancer patients, filed a lawsuit
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Seventh Circuit Finds Coverage for State’s Suit Seeking Costs of Drug Addiction

States and municipalities around the country have sued pharmaceutical companies for their alleged role in increasing levels of addiction and overuse of pharmaceutical products. These suits have given rise to insurance coverage disputes over whether such claims are covered under the pharmaceutical companies’ policies. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit has now weighed in on one such dispute and held that West Virginia’s suit seeking recovery of costs it incurred to provide services to citizens addicted to
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Georgia Joins Growing Consensus that Lead-Based Paint is a Pollutant

For the first time, the Supreme Court of Georgia declared that lead-based paint is a “pollutant” as the term is used in the absolute pollution exclusion of a commercial general liability policy. The plaintiff, Amy Smith, individually and on behalf of her daughter, sued her landlord, Bobby Chupp for injuries the daughter sustained as the result of ingesting lead from deteriorating lead-based paint at the house Smith rented from Chupp. Chupp held a CGL policy issued by Georgia Farm Bureau
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Exceptionally Navigating Abstention: Northern District of Illinois Applies the Colorado River Doctrine to Stay Arbitration

An insurer and a policyholder entered into an agreement, or didn’t they? Either way, the Northern District of Illinois doesn’t have to decide because “exceptional circumstances” triggered the Colorado River abstention doctrine, allowing the court to stay the case asking it to determine whether the agreement existed. A policyholder and one of its insurers began having disputes about who had to provide coverage for certain claims. As a result of those disputes, the policyholder and the insurer allegedly entered into
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Attorney-Negotiated Medical Discounts Reduce Tort Victim’s Recovery

The Louisiana Supreme Court has issued the first ruling from a state’s highest court on the issue of whether a tort victim’s potential recovery in a lawsuit is diminished when her attorney negotiates medical discounts on her behalf. The court ruled that tort victims can only recover the lower rate for medical services they actually pay. The case, Hoffman v. 21st Century N Am. Ins. Co., No. 14-2279, 2015 La. LEXIS 1962 (La. Oct. 2, 2015), dealt with the collateral
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