The United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, applying New Jersey law, has held that an insurer was estopped from denying coverage under a retroactivity provision in an engineering firm’s professional liability policy because the insurer’s reservation of rights, which was issued three years after accepting control of the insured’s defense, was untimely and defective.  RLI Ins. Co. v. AST Eng’g Corp., 2019 WL 7114986 (S.D.N.Y. Dec. 20, 2019).

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The United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, applying Delaware law, has held that a D&O policy’s Major Shareholder Exclusion, barring claims brought against the insured entity by a company owning five percent or more of the entity, was ambiguous as applied to a company acquiring one hundred percent of the insured’s stock after the policy period.  EMSI Acquisition, Inc. v. RSUI Indem. Co., 2019 WL 4511948 (3d Cir. Sept. 19, 2019).  The court also rejected the insurer’s argument that the insured’s settlement with the acquiring company did not constitute “Loss” under the policy.

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The United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts, applying Massachusetts law, has held that a claim asserted against a law firm alleging the failure to transfer client files to former attorneys of the firm constituted a failure to render “Legal Services” as defined by a professional liability policy.  Governo v. Allied World Ins. Co., 2019 WL 4034810 (D. Mass. Aug. 27, 2019).  The court previously denied a motion to dismiss the case, which is described here.

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In a win for Wiley Rein’s client, a California state court has held that an insurer correctly denied coverage under a D&O policy on the basis that the operative “claim” was made before the policy period.  CNEX Labs, Inc. v. Allied World Assurance Co. (U.S.), Inc., Case No. 18-CV-334461 (Cal. Super. Ct., Santa Clara Cty. Jul. 17, 2019).  The court found that a letter the insured received before the policy period “clearly suggested a lawsuit” against the insured and, in any event, the insured had also signed a standstill agreement before the policy’s inception, which separately constituted a “claim.”

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The United States District Court for the Central District of California, applying California law, has held that an insurer lacked adequate information to deny coverage under an insured vs. insured exclusion in a D&O policy.  MJC Supply, LLC v. Scottsdale Ins. Co., 2019 WL 2372279 (C.D. Cal. June 4, 2019).  The court also held that the insureds’ notice under one policy constituted sufficient notice of the claim under two policies issued to a different named insured.  However, the court held that the insureds were not entitled to recover the difference between a judgment entered in their favor and a subsequent settlement of multiple lawsuits because the insureds did not sustain a “Loss.”

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The United States District Court for the Southern District of California has held that a liability insurer had no duty to defend a claim made against an insured arising out of the denial of an employee’s life insurance benefits because coverage was barred by an ERISA exclusion.  By Referral Only, Inc. v. Travelers Prop. Cas. Co. of Am., 2019 WL 1559145 (S.D. Cal. Apr. 10, 2019).

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In a win for Wiley Rein’s client, the Connecticut Supreme Court has held that the continuing course of conduct doctrine could not save the untimely claims of an insurer brought against an insurance adjuster.  See Essex Ins. Co. v. William Kramer & Associates, LLC, Case No. SC 20130 (Conn. Apr. 16, 2019).  On a certified question from the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, the Supreme Court held that the doctrine did not toll the applicable three-year statute of repose because the adjuster’s duties to the insurer ended when the adjuster closed its file more than six years before the insurer’s lawsuit.

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Applying Virginia law, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit has held that a Virginia statute imposing a forty-five day deadline for a coverage denial based on an insured’s breach of a liability policy does not apply to a denial based on a claim reported outside the policy period under a claims made and reported policy.  See Gateway Residences at Exchange, LLC v. Illinois Union Ins. Co., 2019 WL 963238 (4th Cir. Feb. 28, 2019).

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