When is a person an “employee” under one insurance policy but not an employee under another? Conflicting or inconsistent definitions across multiple policy lines issued to the same company can give rise to significant gaps in insurance coverage, as a recent opinion of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit instructs, Telamon Corp. v. Charter Oak Fire Insurance Co., Nos. 16-1205 & 16-1815 (7th Cir. March 9, 2017).
Telamon hired Juanita Berry in 2005 under a series of consulting agreements with her personal communications company, J. Starr Communications. Over the next six years, Berry’s job responsibilities expanded beyond the terms of the consulting agreements, with Telamon eventually naming her Vice President of Major Accounts, the senior-most manager in one of the company’s divisions on the East Coast. Part of Berry’s job was to oversee an asset recovery program under which Telamon removed old AT&T equipment and sold it to salvagers. But without the company’s knowledge, Berry personally removed the old equipment and sold it, keeping the money for herself. By the time Telamon discovered the scheme, Berry had embezzled $5.2 million. Telamon fired Berry, and the government indicted her on wire fraud and tax evasion charges. She was convicted and sentenced to five years in prison.