Florida Appellate Court Narrows Exception to Four Corners Rule

The general rule for determining whether a duty to defend exists for a particular claim is easily stated. If the allegations against the insured fall within the scope of coverage afforded by a liability policy, then the insurer has a duty to defend its insured. This general rule is commonly referred to as the four corners rule. However, insurers frequently face a dilemma in determining whether they have a duty to defend where the allegations in a tendered suit arguably fall
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The Evolving Impact of Burlington v. NYC Transit: In New York, is Proximate Causation Necessary to Trigger the Duty to Defend an Additional Insured?

In previous blog posts this year, and to keep up with how courts are interpreting the New York Court of Appeals 2017 decision in Burlington Ins. Co. v. NYC Transit Auth., 29 N.Y.3d 313 (2017), we discussed the trial court’s decision in M & M Realty of New York, LLC v. Burlington Ins. Co. and the First Department’s reversal in the same case. Recently, a New York Supreme Court Judge decided American Empire Surplus Lines Ins. Co. v. Arch Specialty
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Eleventh Circuit: When an Insurer Has a Duty to Defend, Its Duty to Indemnify Is Not Ripe Until Resolution of the Underlying Lawsuit

With limited exception, an insurer that owes a duty to defend to its insured cannot litigate whether it also has a duty to indemnify the insured for the same matter until after the insured’s liability has been resolved. In a unanimous decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, applying Florida law, affirmed this principle and held that an insurer’s duty to indemnify is not justiciable until the insured’s liability has been adjudicated in the underlying case. Mid-Continent Cas. Co.
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Wisconsin Top Court Limits “Knowing Violation” Exclusion By Looking Beyond Facts Alleged in Complaint

In a decision that could expand the scope of the duty to defend, the Wisconsin Supreme Court recently held that a “knowing violation of the rights of another” exclusion did not apply even though the facts alleged suggested that it should. The court looked beyond the four corners of the complaint, which alleged willful and intentional conduct, and held that the insurer owed a duty to defend because some causes of action asserted in the complaint could potentially be satisfied
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It’s not “12 Corners” — Court Holds Answer does not Trigger Duty to Defend

It is a well-known insurance principle that the duty to defend is determined using the “Eight-Corners” method — comparing the four corners of the complaint to the four corners of the insurance policy. A federal court in Illinois recently maintained this principle and declined to extend coverage to an insured based allegations in the insured’s answer, limiting the analysis of the duty to defend only to the facts alleged in the complaint, and not the answer, unless “unusual circumstances” exist.
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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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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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Insurers Beware: Wisconsin Court of Appeals Hold Expected/Intended Injury Exclusion Inapplicable to Injuries Arising from an Insured’s Negligent Supervision of its Employee

In Talley v. Mustafa (Wisc. App., Apr. 5, 2017), the Wisconsin Court of Appeals found coverage available in an underlying negligence suit against a store owner and reversed the circuit court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of Auto Owners Insurance Company. The court’s holding, in essence, was that a reasonable person in the insured’s position would have expected that his insurance policy would cover a customer’s negligence suit, including negligence in training/supervising an employee who contributed to the customer’s
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Enough is Enough: Fifth Circuit Holds Duty to Defend Does Not Include Costs of Prosecuting Insured’s Fee-Dispute Counterclaim

Aldous v. Darwin National Assurance Co., No. 16-10537 (5th Cir. Mar. 16, 2017), presents a thicket of coverage issues. However, the clearest and most significant one for the insurance industry is that the duty to defend, under Texas law, does not extend to the cost of prosecuting an insured’s counterclaim. This coverage litigation started as an attorney-client dispute over the non-payment fees and then morphed into a legal malpractice action. Darwin National Assurance Co. insured Aldous under a professional liability
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