Archives: Commercial General Liability

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It Means What It Says: Federal Court of Appeals Rejects Insurer Attempt to Read Limitations Into Additional Insured Endorsement

In the world of insurance coverage litigation, insurance companies like to accuse policyholders of attempting to expand coverage terms, or limit the scope of exclusions, beyond the language’s plain meaning. “The policy means what it says,” is a common refrain insurers use to justify coverage denials. However, a recent decision by the federal Fourth Circuit … Continue Reading

Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s decision in Politsopoulos represents victory for policyholders across Pennsylvania

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court recently issued a long-awaited decision in Mutual Benefit Insurance Company v. Politsopoulos, No. J-85-2014, delivering the insured in that case, and policyholders across Pennsylvania, a big victory. As explained more fully in Reed Smith’s recent Client Alert – “’The” insured versus “any” insured: The Pennsylvania Supreme Court limits the application of … Continue Reading

Texas Supreme Court Issues Long Awaited Opinion on Additional Insured Coverage

On February 13, 2015, the Texas Supreme Court, in response to certified questions from the Fifth Circuit, held that BP was only entitled to limited coverage for Macondo related claims as an Additional Insured under Transocean's insurance policies. Specifically, the court held the Transocean insurance contracts included the language required to necessitate "consulting the drilling contract" to determine BP's status as an additional insured.… Continue Reading

Pursuing Insurance Coverage for Alleged Mislabeling of Dietary and Herbal Supplement Products

Businesses in the dietary supplement supply chain are taking cover after the New York Attorney General (NYAG) ordered four major retailers to cease and desist the sale and alleged mislabeling of certain herbal supplements. After genetically testing store-brand product samples of Ginko Biloba, St. John's Wort, Ginseng, Garlic, Echinacea, and Saw Palmetto, the NYAG alleged that the supplements were unrecognizable or contained substances other than those disclosed on their packaging labels. Class action lawsuits already have been filed, and the NYAG directed the targeted retailers to provide it with detailed information regarding the manufacturing, testing, and procurement of the herbal supplements, and announced that it may bring charges for alleged deceptive practices in advertising.… Continue Reading

Harmonizing Risk Transfer: Avoiding Pitfalls With Additional Insured Provisions

Insurance requirements in commercial agreements and corresponding additional insured provisions in insurance policies are important tools to manage and transfer risks. However, far too often those efforts are thwarted by inattention and, in some cases, sloppiness. As exemplified by the disastrous outcome for the contracting parties in Cincinnati Insurance Company v. Vita Food Products, Inc., No. 13 C 05181 (E.D. Ill. January 30, 2015), there are many pitfalls to successfully transfer risk and secure additional insured coverage.… Continue Reading

Wisconsin Supreme Court’s misapplication of the pollution exclusion and disregard for policyholders’ business and purpose in purchasing insurance

Last week, the Wisconsin Supreme Court issued two opinions in which it held that pollution exclusions barred coverage for third-party claims resulting from alleged contamination of water due to the seepage of cow manure and septage, respectively. As addressed in Chief Justice Shirley S. Abrahamson's dissents to the two decisions, the majority's opinions in both cases - Wilson Mutual Insurance Co. v. Falk, Nos. 2013AP691, 2013AP776, 2014 WL 7375656 (Wis. Dec. 30, 2014), and Preisler v. General Casualty Insurance Co., No. 2012AP2521, 2014 WL 7373070 (Wis. Dec. 30, 2014) - were faulty for a number of reasons.… Continue Reading

Another Listeria Outbreak Reminds Food Industry to Revisit Insurance Program

On December 19, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended that U.S. consumers not eat any commercially produced, prepackaged caramel apples and that retailers not sell or serve them as they continue to investigate an outbreak of listeria monocytogenes which has infected at least 28 people from 10 states. The CDC has yet to identify the producer of the contaminated apples. Accordingly, the number of market players in the supply chain who will be affected by this recommendation - from farms through supermarkets - remains unknown.… Continue Reading

Court’s reasoning that “bacteria” is not a “pollutant” favorable for policyholders in other cases

Insurance companies often look to the pollution exclusions in their commercial general liability policies in attempts to exclude coverage for many types of claims. They will try to fit all sorts of things within the definition of "pollutants." Just last Friday, though, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana made that more difficult, offering a common-sense understanding of the term "pollutant." That court found that "under Louisiana law, Legionella and Pseudomonas aeruginosa bacteria" - the bacteria which cause Legionnaire's disease - "do not qualify as 'pollutants' within the meaning of [pollution] exclusions."… Continue Reading

General Liability Insurance and Disease-Related Claims

The Ebola crisis has raised numerous issues worldwide. Many of the concerns sparked by the crisis - particularly in the insurance coverage context - are not unique to that disease, however. For example, coverage concerns relating to Ebola-related claims would be similar to those for many other disease-related claims. Many different types of insurance policies, including general liability policies, could be implicated by such claims.… Continue Reading
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