Louis Kozloff

All articles by Louis Kozloff

 

Pro Rata v. All Sums: When Viking Pump Applies

The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit recently changed the tune of a decades-old insurance coverage dispute when it decided to apportion liability exposure for multiple instances of environmental contamination on an “all sums” basis. In the matter of Olin v. OneBeacon, Olin, a manufacturing company, sought indemnity for remediation costs and other sums related to pollution cleanup at five of its manufacturing sites under several excess general liability policies. OneBeacon insured Olin under three excess umbrella
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Insurer Obligated to Provide Coverage for DWI Accident Resulting from Fundraising Event

In Philadelphia Indemnity Insurance Company v. Central Terminal Restoration Corp., 2018 WL 992312 (2d Cir. 2018), the Second Circuit found coverage existed for a car accident which resulted from the overserving of alcohol to a patron at an event because it held that the ensuing consequences were unintentional. On April 1, 2013, Central Terminal Restoration Corp. (CTRC) held a fundraising event in association with Dyngus Day, a traditional post-Easter festival that attracts tens of thousands of Polish Americans to Buffalo,
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Current Events in Insurance Coverage — Reflections on ABA TIPS ICLC Meeting

The ABA Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Section’s Insurance Coverage Litigation Committee’s mid-year meeting is always a great opportunity to learn about emerging issues and recent developments in coverage law and to meet with leaders of the insurance industry and insurance coverage bar. This year’s meeting was no exception. I attended the meeting, where I led a panel discussion on emerging issues in D&O and Professional Liability coverage law. The panel, made up of thought leaders from the insurance brokerage,
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Waiver Rears its Head: Equitable Subrogation Against “Other Insurance” Waived by Failure to Preserve Rights

Questions of “other insurance” arise whenever two or more insurers could provide coverage for a claim against a common insured. If one insurer is put in the position of settling a claim when other insurers who may also owe coverage do not contribute, reserving and pursing rights against other insurers should never be an afterthought. An insurer recently learned this lesson when it failed to assert rights against another insurer before agreeing to provide coverage for the settlement of a
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Massachusetts Court Holds that All Excess Policies are Created Equal

In Massachusetts, competing excess insurance policies will apply equally to provide excess coverage even if one policy is a true excess policy and the other is a hybrid policy that provides either primary or excess coverage depending on the circumstances. See Great Divide Ins. Co. v. Lexington Ins. Co., 2017 WL 4969942 (Mass. Nov. 1, 2017). In a November 1, 2017 opinion, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts held that the plain language of the insurance policies was the determinative
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Pennsylvania Supreme Court Rules that Bad Faith Does Not Require Proof of an Insurer’s Self-Interest or Ill-Will

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled today that the Pennsylvania bad faith statute does not require a plaintiff to prove that an insurer was motivated by self-interest or ill-will when denying benefits under an insurance policy. Instead, the court’s decision in Rancosky v. Washington National Insurance Company adopted the standard established by the Pennsylvania Superior Court 23 years ago in Terletsky v. Prudential Property & Casualty Company, under which a bad faith claim is established by clear and convincing evidence that the insurer did not
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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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Is an Argument Challenging Precedent Bad Faith? Pennsylvania Bad Faith Ruling in Asbestos Coverage Case Raises This Important Question

Since 1993, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s decision in the J.H. France case has dictated that the continuous trigger rule be applied to determine what insurance policies are triggered for asbestos injury claims. Under J.H. France, coverage is provided by policies in effect from the time the claimant was first exposed to asbestos until injury manifests as mesothelioma. The J.H. France court’s decision was expressly based on the science behind mesothelioma, which indicates that mesothelioma is a continuous, progressive injury that
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Ninth Circuit Confirms the FDIC Cannot Avoid the Insured-Versus-Insured Exclusion

In recent years, courts frequently have held that a D&O policy’s “insured-versus-insured” exclusion bars coverage for claims by the FDIC, as receiver of a failed bank, against the bank’s former directors and officers because the FDIC stands in the shoes of the insured bank. Therefore, the FDIC has tried to circumvent this exclusion by arguing that a policy’s shareholder derivative suit exception to the insured-versus-insured exclusion brought the FDIC’s claim back within coverage. A recent decision by the Ninth Circuit
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Anticipated Decision in Heinz Rescission Litigation Upholds Ruling Voiding $25 Million Insurance Policy Due to Misrepresentations in the Application

In a much anticipated decision, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the rescission of H.J. Heinz Company’s $25 million production contamination insurance policy because Heinz made material misrepresentations concerning previous product contamination claims when it applied for the policy. H.J. Heinz Company v. Starr Surplus Lines Insurance Company, No. 16-1447 (3d Cir. Jan. 11, 2017). The fact that Heinz’s application misrepresented its history of prior contaminations losses was clear. The insurer’s application asked Heinz to disclose past complaints, recommendations,
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No Coverage for Innocent Insureds: West Virginia Supreme Court Decision Proves the Smallest Words Continue to Have Huge Impacts on Coverage

The distinction between the terms “the insured” and “any insured” in an insurance policy is a critical one and continues to spark coverage litigation. This distinction was key to the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia’s recent decision denying coverage to parents sued in a wrongful death action arising from murder committed by their minor children. Answering certified questions from the federal court, the court held that the parents’ homeowners policies did not provide coverage because exclusions barring coverage
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Court Finds Ambiguity Over When Property Damage Commenced

Ambiguity surrounding the term “commencing” led a court to deny an insurer’s motion seeking to dismiss an insured’s property damage claim, despite the insured’s inability to state when the property damage at issue first occurred. In a question of first impression, a federal district court in Illinois denied an insurer’s motion for summary judgment earlier this month, ruling that the term “commencing” during the policy period was ambiguous when applied to the circumstances of the case. Temperature Serv. Co. v.
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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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Presumed Innocent: But Rescission Still Available to Void Coverage Due to Misrepresentations

A court rescinded a Georgia attorney’s professional liability coverage after his partner stole more than a million dollars from clients and lied about it on their firm’s insurance application. A federal district court in Georgia granted an insurer’s motion for summary judgment earlier this month, permitting rescission of the professional liability insurance policy issued to the attorney’s law firm. ProAssurance Cas. Co. v. Smith, No. CV415-051, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 105033 (S.D. Ga. Aug. 9, 2016). From 2013 to 2014, the attorney’s
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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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No Prejudice Needed When an Insured Settles Without the Insurer’s Consent

In Travelers Prop. Cas. Co. of Am. v. Stresscon Corp., 2016 Colo. LEXIS 419 (Colo. April 25, 2016), Colorado was faced with a choice: enforce the plain and unambiguous terms of an insurance policy or extend the requirement that an insurer prove it was prejudiced by its insured’s breach of the policy’s conditions before denying coverage. The Colorado Supreme Court choose the former and held that an insurer seeking to deny coverage for a breach of the no-voluntary-payments provision does
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Defense Counsel’s Billing Records Are Discoverable When an Insured Seeks Payment of Attorney’s Fees for Bad Faith

While one may expect that an insurer opposing an award of attorney’s fees to a plaintiff in bad faith litigation would be entitled to review the billing records of the plaintiff’s attorney, the Florida Supreme Court has ruled that an insurer’s defense counsel’s billing records are discoverable by the plaintiff. In Paton v. GEICO General Insurance Company, the plaintiff insured asserted a bad faith claim against her UM insurer and sought recovery of attorney’s fees. To support the reasonableness of
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Insurers May Need a Doctor’s Note: Data Breach of Medical Records Triggers Coverage, Says Fourth Circuit

On Monday, April 11, 2016, the Fourth Circuit handed down a notable, albeit unpublished, decision with regard to an issue that has vexed the insurance industry, namely, do data breaches trigger a CGL insurer’s duty to defend under Coverage B? In Travelers Indemnity Company of America v. Portal Healthcare Solutions, L.L.C., the Fourth Circuit determined, under Virginia law, the underlying class action lawsuit, indeed, triggered Travelers’ duty to defend. The underlying lawsuit was a class action complaint filed against, in
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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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Drilling Down Policy Language Results in Finding Two Occurrences Because Two Separate Events were Proximate Cause of Insured’s Losses

Hundreds, if not thousands, of cases have been decided based on the meaning of “arising out of” and “arising from” when used in an insurance policy. The recent case of Seahawk Liquidating Trust v. Certain Underwriters at Lloyds London, 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 871 (5th Cir. Jan. 19, 2016)demonstrates that it is not only the words that matter, but the context in which the words are used is equally important. In Seahawk, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals held that
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Hartford v. Tempur-Sealy: Can an Insurer Rest Easy When a Claim Does Not Appear to Be Covered?

When a complaint specifically denies that the plaintiff is seeking damages covered by an insurance policy, it seems logical that the insurer would not have a duty to defend. However, taking a very broad view of the duty to defend, a California federal court recently held that an insurer did, in fact, have to provide a defense even though the complaint, on its face, did not include a claim for damages covered under the policy. (Hartford Fire Ins. Co. v.
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Failure to Answer Question on Application for Insurance Truthfully Held to be Grounds for Rescission

Policyholders have an affirmative duty to read the questions asked on an insurance application carefully and will be bound by the answers provided. So stated the United States District Court of the District of Connecticut when it held that a policyholder’s answer of “no” to a question asking whether any of its officers was the subject of a governmental investigation was knowingly false and material to the insurer’s decisions to issue the liability insurance policy. Zurich Am. Ins. Co. v.
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Take My Word For It: Insurer Bound by Insured’s Oral Promise

It is rare that insurance coverage is provided based on an oral agreement. However, the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit recently held that an additional insured endorsement allowed the policyholder to add insureds by oral agreement, regardless of when a written certificate of insurance verifying the addition was issued. The case illustrates the evidentiary dangers of broadly worded additional insured provisions that extend coverage by an oral agreement. In this case, the putative additional insured, Vita Food Products,
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Location, Location, Location: Michigan PIP Benefits Awarded to Illinios Claimant Where Location of Accident is Only Connection to Michigan

Michigan’s no-fault insurance benefits, especially Personal Injury Protection (PIP) benefits, are among the most favorable to claimants. Michigan law requires no-fault insurance for every vehicle owner. This insurance pays for medical expenses, wage loss benefits, replacement services, and damages to other people’s property, no matter who caused the accident. These provisions make Michigan’s no-fault coverage attractive to injured claimants when insurance coverage may not otherwise be available or fault may be difficult to establish, as shown by a recent case
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Excess Insurance Does Not Drop Down When Primary Goes Belly Up

Insolvency of a primary insurer represents a tremendous cause for concern for the next layer of excess and umbrella insurers. The Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit issued an important and favorable ruling for excess and umbrella insurers last month in Canal Insurance Company v. Montello, Inc., Civil Action No. 14-5039, 2015 U.S. Lexis 20625 (10th Cir. Nov. 27, 2015). The insured, Montello, Inc., a distributor of oil-drilling products, distributed a “viscofier” – a mud drilling liquid agent –
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Beware of Boilerplate Claims for “Other Relief Deemed Appropriate” — They Could Trigger a Duty to Defend

Boilerplate demands for “all other relief deemed appropriate” are routine. However, they should not be overlooked when analyzing whether a complaint triggers an insurer’s duty to defend. In Country Mutual Insurance Company v. Bible Pork, Inc. (No. 08-MR-14), the Fifth District Court of Appeals in Illinois held that a nuisance suit against a livestock producer seeking injunctive relief triggered a duty to defend. The appellate court’s decision is significant because the court held that a complaint that appeared to seek
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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
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Maryland Joins the Rising Tide of States in Placing Limits on the Scope of Additional Insured Coverage

Maryland, home of the Chesapeake Bay, brings to mind the aphorism, “A rising tide lifts all boats.” Therefore, it should come as no surprise that Maryland has joined the rising tide of states that have adopted a proximate cause standard to determine when an additional insured is entitled to coverage for injuries “caused, in whole or in part, by” another’s acts or omissions. The Maryland Court of Special Appeals’ October 28, 2015 decision in James G. Davis Construction Corp. v.
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Pennsylvania Federal Court Sets Standards for Burden of Proof in Rescission Matter

The ongoing coverage litigation between H.J. Heinz Company and Starr Surplus Lines Insurance Company in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania has yielded another important decision that is instructive in rescission matters.  As a follow up to our previous report on October 22, 2015 on the court’s order that Starr must produce information from its underwriting files involving other policyholders, the court has now set guidelines for the burden of proof and jury instructions in the
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Pennsylvania Federal Judge Orders an Insurer to Produce Information from Underwriting Files Involving Other Policyholders in a Rescission Dispute

Discovery disputes in insurance coverage litigation frequently concern whether an insurer must produce information about policies issued to other policyholders or other claims against the insurer involving similar policies or circumstances. Policyholders often seek such discovery to compare the insurer’s position in the disputed claim with positions it may have taken in other claims or under other policies. Insurers typically resist such discovery as being irrelevant to issues involving the particular policy or claim at issue in the litigation. A
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Pennsylvania Supreme Court Holds that an Insurer’s Consent to Settle is Not Required if Insurer Is Defending Under Reservation of Rights

The Pennsylvania appellate courts have kept insurance coverage lawyers on their toes this summer. Weeks after the Pennsylvania Superior Court’s decision in Selective Way Insurance Co. v. Hospitality Group Services, Inc. provided guidance on when the statute of limitations for an insurance coverage declaratory judgment action accrues, on July 21, 2015, the state’s Supreme Court issued its much anticipated decision in Babcock & Wilcox Company v. American Nuclear Insurers. In Babcock & Wilcox, the Supreme Court held that when an insurer
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In Pennsylvania, a Cause of Action for Declaratory Judgment Accrues When an Insurer has Sufficient Facts to Believe that its Policy Does Not Provide Coverage

When an insurer is asked to cover a liability claim for which coverage is in doubt, the prudent course of action is to provide a defense subject to a reservation of rights. The reservation of rights preserves the insurer’s ability to deny coverage, for either defense and indemnity, if it is determined that the claim is not covered under the policy. In many instances, a reservation of rights is accompanied with the filing of a declaratory judgment action in which
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No Bad Faith Where Insurer’s Valuation of Claimant’s Injuries is in the Ballpark

In Hicks v. Progressive Casualty Insurance Co., 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 71985 (C.D. Cal. June 1, 2015), the district court held that Progressive did not breach the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing through its investigation of, and subsequent dispute of, plaintiff Chris Hicks’ damages in an arbitration of Hicks’ underinsured motorist claim. Hicks was a passenger in an automobile driven by his mother and insured by Progressive when, on August 12, 2006, the automobile was involved in
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