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A Recent California Federal Court Decision Restores Coverage For Some Patent-Related Lawsuits

A California district court pushed back on the restrictive interpretation of a standard intellectual property exclusion and found coverage for a policyholder’s patent related lawsuit. The United States District Court (Northern District of California) recently ruled that claims asserting (1) the breach of a patent license agreement and (2) patent misuse were covered under a … Continue Reading

‘Sorry, But You Have Nothing in Common’: The New York Court of Appeals’ Recent Rejection of the ‘Common Interest Doctrine’ Outside the Context of Litigation

The New York Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court, recently rejected an attempt to apply the “common interest doctrine,” an exception to the general rule that communicating privileged information to a third party waives the attorney-client privilege, to situations where separately represented parties communicate attorney-client privileged information in connection with transactions or other circumstances … Continue Reading

Colorado Supreme Court Holds That An Insurer Need Not Show Prejudice If Denying Coverage For A Settlement Prior to Notice of Claim

On Monday, April 25, 2016, the Supreme Court of Colorado ruled that policyholders could not be indemnified for a settlement incurred before providing their insurers of notice of the claim—even if the insurer did not suffer any prejudice from lack of notice. In a 4-3 decision in Travelers Prop. Cas. Co. v. Stresscon Co., No. … Continue Reading

Court Upholds Coverage Under General Liability Policy for Claim Alleging Failure to Protect Data

In an encouraging development for insureds, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit held that a health care company’s general liability insurer was required to defend the company against claims stemming from an alleged failure to secure electronic medical records. In The Travelers Indemnity Co. of America v. Portal Healthcare Solutions, L.L.C., … Continue Reading

Companies can insure against cyber ransom

National Public Radio and other news outlets are reporting that a Los Angeles-area hospital recently paid a $17,000 ransom (in the form of 40 bitcoins) to hackers to unencrypt its computer networks, which had been held hostage after “ransomware” was introduced into the hospital’s network. Ransomware is a form of malicious software, or “malware,” that encrypts … Continue Reading

Insurance Coverage for Statutory Damages Under Professional Liability Policies

Increasingly, companies are being named as defendants in putative class actions, like those brought under the Fair Credit Reporting Act and Telephone Consumer Protection Act, involving violations of statutes that contain provisions mandating certain damages or ranges of damages. One question raised is whether “statutory damages” are uncovered “fines” or “penalties,” or whether they are … Continue Reading

365 Days Later: Lessons Learned from the Pennsylvania Supreme Court

One year ago today, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued the first two of four important insurance-coverage law opinions that it would hand down in 2014 and 2015. Those four decisions – which address a number of topics including insurer bad faith, trigger of coverage, policy exclusions, and settlements and reservations of rights – significantly impacted … Continue Reading

Eastern District of New York ultimately arrives at right outcome when interpreting “Employer’s Liability” exclusion in CGL policy

In Hastings Development, LLC v. Evanston Insurance Company, No. 14-cv-6203 (ADS)(AKT) (Oct. 30, 2015), the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York correctly determined that an “Employer’s Liability” exclusion in a commercial general liability (“CGL”) policy only applied and precluded coverage when an insured is sued by its own employee(s) and not … Continue Reading

If not “determinative,” then at least compelling: Other, specific exclusionary language available on market undermines application of pollution exclusion

Recently, in a non-precedential order, an Illinois appellate court correctly held that a “Pollution and Health Hazard Exclusion” in a commercial general liability policy did not preclude coverage for mold-related bodily injury claims. See In re Liquidation of Legion Indem. Co., 2014 IL App (1st) 140452-U (Sept. 30, 2015) (applying Texas law). That court held, … Continue Reading

Evaluating Insurance Coverage In The Rapidly Evolving World of 3D Printing

As 3D printing becomes more prevalent, liability risks to individuals and businesses will likely rise.  Corporate policyholders should explore whether their existing insurance provides adequate coverage or whether additional coverage is needed. This technology presents many types of risks, including design and intellectual infringements, product liability risks and environmental liability risks, to name a few. … Continue Reading

Host of insurance-coverage questions tied to Legionnaires’ disease

A recent outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in New York has, according to published news reports, been responsible for the death of 12 people. According to those same reports, more than 100 other people have become ill as a result of the outbreak, which has been traced to a rooftop cooling tower(s). For better or worse, … Continue Reading

The California Supreme Court Issues Its Landmark Decision in Fluor

On August 20, 2015, the California Supreme Court issued its landmark decision in Fluor v. Superior Court, overruling its prior holding in Henkel Corp. v Hartford, which precluded successor entities from tapping into their predecessors’ insurance assets for inherited long-tail liabilities.  In Henkel, the Court held that a contractual assignment of insurance assets in a corporate … 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

United States Department of Justice Announces “Best Practices” for Addressing Cyber Attacks

In light of the growing concern over cybersecurity, the United Stated Department of Justice (“DOJ”) issued guidance last week on how to prepare for and respond to cyber attacks.  Taking lessons learned by federal prosecutors while handling cyber investigations, and input from private sector companies that have managed cyber incidents, the guidance contains a step-by-step guide … Continue Reading

Read Insurance Policy as Drafted, Not as Insurance Company “Wishes It Had Drafted It”

Confronted with an ambiguity in its own insurance policy, an insurance company will sometimes attempt to rewrite its policy long after it first issued that policy.  Last week, the Pennsylvania Superior Court again rejected such gamesmanship, emphasizing that, when interpreting an insurance policy, a court “must examine and construe the policy as it exists, not … 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

President Obama Acknowledges Growing Cybersecurity Threats to the Government and Economy, Proposes New Measures to Fight Cyber Risks

Just days after news broke that ISIS hackers forced the shutdown of the U.S. Central Command's Twitter account, President Obama met with congressional leadership, members of the Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Homeland Security to unveil a proposal to facilitate increased cooperation between the private sector and government to combat growing cybersecurity threats. Citing concerns with preserving national security, public safety and public health, the President proposed new federal cybersecurity legislation, emphasizing that although our digital economy "creates enormous opportunities," it also "creates enormous vulnerabilities for us as a nation" that are growing and costing us billions of dollars. In remarks on Tuesday at the National Cybersecurity Communications Integration Center, the President further acknowledged the serious legal and liability issues involved with private companies sharing information with the government, and argued that his proposed legislation "includes essential safeguards to ensure that [the] government protects privacy and civil liberties" and other liability protections for companies that share information on cyber threats.… 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

Reed Smith’s Insurance Recovery Group Ready to Help Policyholders after U.S. Congress Fails to Extend TRIA

Last week, the U.S. Congress adjourned for the year without making any provision for extending the federal Terrorism Risk Insurance Act ("TRIA"). Absent some sort of extension, TRIA thus will expire next week - on December 31, 2014. As a result, insurers will no longer be required to offer terrorism insurance, and even those insurers that do offer the coverage may well reassess their risk and price the coverage at substantially increased premium rates.… Continue Reading

Hackers Don’t Care About Your Insurance

A recent study reports that the median amount of time between a breach of a company's computer network and the discovery of the incident is 229 days. But some cyberliability policy forms require that both the breach event and discovery of loss (or resulting claim) occur during the policy period. So what happens when a breach is discovered three months into the policy period but, unbeknownst at the time, the intrusion actually occurred six months before, or even earlier? If your company's cyberliability insurance policy excludes breach events occurring before the inception of the policy period, the company could find itself without coverage for an otherwise-covered claim or loss.… Continue Reading

Getting the Corporate Deal Done: A Little Insurance Knowledge Goes a Long Way

By Laura Geiger and John Vishneski A company’s insurance program is an asset that is often ignored during corporate transactions. This is a mistake. Understanding the insurance assets available and how to maximize insurance assets during a corporate transaction will give companies an advantage at the negotiating table. Failing to maximize coverage during a corporate transaction can have … Continue Reading

Coverage For Construction Defects

A hypothetical: The roof of a parking garage that is part of a condominium development partially collapses, destroying landscaping over the collapsed section of the roof and the floors underneath the collapsed section. The roof had been fully installed and the parking garage was being used at the time of the collapse, but work continued on … Continue Reading

Answers To The Most Common And Perplexing Questions About Professional Liability Coverage

Reed Smith partner Tom Marrinson, resident in the firm’s Chicago office, has been advising policyholders about their insurance coverage, and representing them in coverage litigation, for more than 20 years. While Tom’s experience ranges widely, he has literally written the book on insurance coverage for professionals and companies that employ them Professional Liability Insurance, published … Continue Reading
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