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Legal News & Headlines

ExxonMobil Moves To Confirm $25M Arbitration Award Against Insurer
NEW YORK - An insured on Nov. 21 filed a motion to confirm a $25 million arbitration award entered against an excess liability insurer and to award more than $6 million in prejudgment interest in an environmental contamination coverage dispute, arguing that confirmation of the award is warranted because the excess insurer forfeited any right to contest the award (ExxonMobil Oil Corp. v. TIG Insurance Co., No. 16-9527, S.D. N.Y.).

Pollution Exclusion Dispute Transferred From Michigan To Indiana Federal Court
DETROIT - A Michigan federal judge on Nov. 19 transferred an insurer's action seeking a declaration that no coverage is owed for an underlying suit based on the policy's pollution exclusion after determining that the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana is the proper venue (Mt. Hawley Insurance Co. v. McKinley Inc., et al., No. 19-11418, E.D. Mich., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 200148).

Over Insurers' Objection, Imerys Judge Sets Bar Date For 'Indirect' Talc Claims
WILMINGTON, Del. - A request by Chapter 11 debtor Imerys Talc America Inc. to set a bar date for filing indirect talc claims gained approval from a Delaware federal bankruptcy judge Nov. 22 over the objections of insurers who said the debtor was not allowed to restrict claims by nondebtor parties (In re: Imerys Talc America, Inc., et al., No. 19-10289, D. Del. Bkcy.).

Homeowners Insurer Properly Paid For Damages Caused By Windstorm, Judge Says
LAS VEGAS - A homeowners insurer did not breach its contract or act in bad faith in handling an insured's claim for roof damage and water and mold damages because the insurer promptly investigated the claim and timely paid the insured for the repairs to the home, a Nevada federal judge said Nov. 25 (Patricia Lombardo v. Property & Casualty Insurance Company of Hartford, No. 17-2242, D. Nev., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 205352).

Florida Panel Vacates, Remands Ruling That Insured Perpetrated Fraud On Lower Court
MIAMI - A Florida appeals panel on Nov. 13 vacated and remanded a lower court's finding that an insured perpetrated a fraud on the court by providing materially false information in her affidavit in a water damage coverage dispute, noting that this is a "teaching point and a caution that a client's personal knowledge, however imperfect, is not to be gilded, excessively bolstered, or embellished by her counsel in the hope of improving a case" (Irma Perez v. Safepoint Insurance Company, No. 3D18-1588, Fla., App., 3rd Dist., 2019 Fla. App. LEXIS 17010).

Contractor: Builders Risk Insurer Improperly Handled Water, Mold-Related Claim
SAN FRANCISCO - An additional insured contractor alleges in a Nov. 7 complaint filed in a California federal court that a builders risk insurer breached its policy, acted in bad faith and violated California Business and Professions Code Section 17200 et seq., regarding its claim handling of water and mold-related damage in a construction project (Build Group, Inc. v. Liberty Surplus Insurance Corp., No. 19-07359, N.D. Calif.).

Pollution Exclusion Bars Coverage For Diesel Fuel Spill, Federal Judge Says
BOSTON - No coverage is owed for the cleanup of a gasoline and diesel fuel spill from an insured tanker-truck because a policy's pollution exclusion clearly applies as a bar to coverage, a Massachusetts federal judge said Nov. 25 in granting the insurer's motion for summary judgment (Performance Trans Inc., et al. v. General Star Indemnity Co., No. 19-40086, D. Mass., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 204093).

Insurer Says Judge Erred In Staying Suit Alleging Policy Breaches By Debtors
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Putting off an attempt by an asbestos insurer to have a jury hear its declaratory judgment claims against Chapter 11 debtors Kaiser Gypsum Co. Inc. and Hanson Permanente Cement Inc. will only cause unnecessary delay and prejudice, the insurer argues in an Oct. 30 reply brief in North Carolina federal court (Truck Insurance Exchange v. Kaiser Gypsum Company, Inc., et al., No. 3:19-cv-467, W.D. N.C.).

Imerys Insurers Oppose Setting Bar Date For 'Indirect' Talc Claims
WILMINGTON, Del. - A request by Chapter 11 debtor Imerys Talc America Inc. to set a bar date for filing indirect talc claims should be denied because the debtor is not allowed to restrict claims by nondebtor parties, especially when the term "indirect" is so ill-defined in the request, a group of insurers say in a Nov. 18 objection filed in Delaware federal bankruptcy court (In re: Imerys Talc America, Inc., et al., No. 19-10289, D. Del. Bkcy.).

Fungus Exclusion Bars Coverage For $861,592 Award, Insurer Argues
HOUSTON - Citing a fungus or spore exclusion and business risk exclusions, an insurer alleges in a Nov. 18 complaint filed in a Texas federal court that there is no coverage for a $861,592.73 judgment for water penetration and mold growth at a 326-unit apartment complex (Acceptance Indemnity Insurance Co. v. SLI Framing Company, Inc., et al., No. 19-4531, S.D. Texas).

No Coverage Owed For Water Damage Inside Church, Federal Judge Determines
DETROIT - No coverage is owed for water damage sustained to the interior of a church during a storm because the water damage was caused by the insufficient placement of tarps on the insured roof that was being repaired when the storm occurred, a Michigan federal judge said Nov. 19 in granting summary judgment in favor of a commercial property insurer (Christ Church of the Gospel Ministries d/b/a Evangel Churches v. Guideone Mutual Insurance Co., No. 19-11208, E.D. Mich., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 200138).

Policy's Subrogation Waiver Is Ambiguous, 6th Circuit Majority Says In Reversal
CINCINNATI - A majority of the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Oct. 30 reversed a lower federal court's summary judgment ruling in favor of an insurer, concluding that the policy's subrogation waiver is ambiguous as to whether the insurer can sue an additional insured for damage caused by negligence (Certain Underwriters at Lloyd's, London v. Sunbelt Rentals, Inc., No. 18-5617, 6th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 32461).

Insurer Breached Contract, Acted In Bad Faith In Claims Response, Contractor Says
TAMPA, Fla. - A contractor sued a commercial general liability insurer on Nov. 21 in a Florida federal court, alleging that the insurer breached its contract and acted in bad faith by failing to respond to claims for additional insured coverage for an underlying construction defects action (Suffolk Construction Company, Inc. v. Auto-Owners Insurance Co., No. 19-02878, M.D. Fla.).

Wisconsin Appeals Panel Says Occurrence In Excess Policies Is Ambiguous
WAUSAU, Wis. - The Third District Wisconsin Court of Appeals on Nov. 19 remanded a trial court's ruling in an environmental contamination coverage dispute on the meaning of occurrence used in three excess policies after determining that the term occurrence is ambiguous and that an insured has to prove only that "one event" caused the damage at issue (Superior Water, Light and Power Co. v. Certain Underwriters at Lloyds, London et al., No. 2018AP1926, Wis. App., Dist. 3, 2019 Wisc. App. LEXIS 617).

Proposed Settlement In Environmental Dispute Approved By Federal Judge
SEATTLE - A Washington federal judge on Nov. 12 approved the terms of an almost $4 million proposed settlement between an insured and one of its insurers in an environmental contamination coverage dispute after determining that the terms of the settlement are reasonable (Seattle Times Co. v. National Surety Corp., et al., No 13-1463, W.D. Wash., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 196369).

Connecticut High Court Says No Coverage Owed For Crumbling Foundations
HARTFORD, Conn. - In three opinions issued Nov. 12, the Connecticut Supreme Court determined that no coverage is afforded under homeowners insurance policies for the deterioration of cracking of the homeowners' foundation walls as a result of the use of defective concrete when the homes were built because the collapse provisions only provide coverage for the abrupt caving in or falling down of a structure (Steven Karas, et al. v. Liberty Insurance Corp., No. 20149, Steven L. Vera, et al. v. Liberty Mutual Fire Insurance Co., No. 20178, Edith R. Jemiola, trustee of the Edith R. Jemiola Living Trust, v. Hartford Casualty Insurance Co., No. 19978, Conn. Sup.).

Judge Denies Stay Pending Insurer's Appeal Of Jurisdiction Decision For Arbitration Panel
NEW YORK - A federal judge in New York on Nov. 14 refused to stay pending an insurer's recent appeal of his decision granting reinsurers' declaratory relief in a dispute over which of two arbitrations has jurisdiction to decide reinsurance billings for asbestos losses because the insurer "failed to make the requisite strong showing of likelihood of success on the merits" (Chicago Insurance Co. v. General Reinsurance Corp., et al., No. 18-10450, S.D. N.Y.).

Issue Of Fact Exists As To Whether Mold Contamination Is Covered Under Policy
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - A New Mexico federal magistrate judge on Nov. 17 denied motions for partial summary judgment filed in a mold contamination coverage suit after determining that issues of fact exist as to whether the mold contamination within the insured's laboratory facility was directly caused by a lightning strike and, therefore, covered under the insured's policy (Factory Mutual Insurance Co., et al. v. Federal Insurance Co., et al., No. 17-760, D. N.M., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 198934).

Insurer Says Insured Acted In Bad Faith By Preventing Removal Of Water Damage Suit
MIAMI - More than a year after an insured filed suit in Florida state court seeking coverage for water damage, an insurer on Nov. 11 filed a notice of removal to Florida federal court, arguing that removal is warranted because the insured acted in bad faith to prevent the removal of the suit by delaying its responses to the insurer's discovery requests (La Villarena Meat & Pork Inc. v. Aspen Specialty Insurance Co., No. 19-24651, S.D. Fla.).

Insureds, Homeowners Answer Insurer's Appeal Of Construction Defects Coverage Ruling
PHILADELPHIA - Insured contractors and homeowners who are suing them in two underlying construction defects lawsuit filed two separate briefs in the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Oct. 26, refuting a commercial general liability insurer's appeal of a federal court's ruling that it has a duty to defend against the underlying claims (Nautilus Insurance Company v. 200 Christian Street Partners LLC, et al., Nos. 19-1507 and 19-1506, 3rd Cir.).

Federal Judge Dismisses Declaratory Judgment Claim Against Insurer In Lead Suit
ST. LOUIS - A Missouri federal judge on Nov. 1 granted an insurer's motion to dismiss a declaratory judgment claim alleged against it by another insurer in a coverage dispute stemming from injuries sustained as result of an insured's lead-smelting operations after determining that the declaratory judgment claim is not ripe because no claim for indemnification has been filed (Zurich American Insurance Co. v. Fluor Corp., et al., No. 16-429, E.D. Mo., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 189843).

Pro Rata, Time-On-The- Risk Allocation Applies, Judge Says In Redacted Opinion
NEW YORK - In a redacted opinion released Oct. 31, a New York federal judge agreed with one insurer that the pro rata, time-on-the-risk method of allocation should be applied to the insurer's primary policies issued to an insured that was named in hundreds of underlying asbestos and silica bodily injury lawsuits (Danaher Corp. v. Travelers Indemnity Co., et al., No. 10-0121, S.D. N.Y., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 191275).

Insurer Appeals Ruling On Arbitration Panel's Jurisdiction Over New Reinsurance Billings
NEW YORK - An insurer on Oct. 31 filed a notice of appeal in the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals of a New York federal judge's decision to stay the insurer's new arbitration of reinsurance billings for asbestos losses because a prior arbitration panel retained jurisdiction to decide the matter (Chicago Insurance Co. v. General Reinsurance Corp., et al., No. 18-10450, S.D. N.Y.).

Magistrate Judge Declines To Compel Reinsurers To Produce Info Over Settlement Allocation
BOSTON - A Massachusetts federal magistrate judge on Nov 8 denied an insurer's motion to compel production of documents from reinsurers over allocation and billing of a 2009 settlement with an insured because "the relevance of the materials sought is too speculative" (Certain London Market Company Reinsurers v. Lamorak Insurance Co., No. 18-10534, D. Mass.).

Federal Judge Says Insured's Claim For Emotional Distress Damages Cannot Stand
TACOMA, Wash. - A Washington federal judge on Nov. 7 granted a homeowners insurer's motion for partial summary judgment on a homeowners' claim for emotional distress damages caused by the insurer's refusal to pay for all of the water and mold damages sustained in the insured's home after determining that emotional distress damages are not recoverable on a breach of contract claim (Vanessa Camper v. State Farm Fire and Casualty Co., et al., No.18-5486, W.D. Wash., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 194116).

No Coverage Owed For Mold, Fungi Growth In Travel Trailer
LONDON, Ky. - No coverage is owed to insureds for mold and fungi growth as a result of a water leak in the insureds' travel trailer because the policy clearly excludes fungi damages and because the damages to the trailer were not caused by an accident, a Kentucky federal judge said Oct. 31 (Milton Blankenship, et al. v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co., No. 18-241, E.D. Ky., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 189029).

Insurer Entitled To Award Of Attorney Fees, Costs In Water Damage Dispute
MIAMI - A Florida federal magistrate judge on Oct. 30 recommended granting an insurer's motion for more than $27,000 in attorney fees and costs in a water damage coverage dispute based on the insureds' failure to respond to the insurer's motion and after determining that the requested amount of costs and fees is reasonable (Moshe Lehrfield, et al. v. Liberty Mutual Fire Insurance Co., No. 18-23218, S.D. Fla., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 189203).

 
 
The above is not legal advice. That can only come from a qualified attorney who is familiar
with all the facts and circumstances of a particular, specific case and the relevant law.