Related Claims and associated exclusions

The United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, applying Illinois law, has held that there is no coverage under a D&O policy where the insured did not timely report a declaratory judgment lawsuit and instead sought coverage only after an amended complaint was filed in the successive policy period.  Hanover Ins. Co. v. R.W. Dunteman Co., 2020 WL 1275002 (N.D. Ill. Mar. 17, 2020).  The court held that the complaints were part of a single “claim” and not separate “claims” even though the amended complaint added insured defendants and theories of liability.

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The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, applying Washington law, has held that a district court erred in concluding that a demand letter and suit alleging the same wrongful act constituted a “single claim” where the applicable professional liability policy lacked a related claims provision.  Nat’l Union Fire Ins. Co. v. Zillow, Inc., 2020 WL 774366 (9th Cir. Feb. 18, 2020).  The court of appeals declined, however, to find that the absence of a related claims provision resolved the coverage issue and remanded for consideration of extrinsic evidence to determine the parties’ intent.

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Applying New York law, the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York has held that, because a subpoena duces tecum previously issued to the insured by a post-judgment creditor of a non-insured entity was not a “Claim” against the insured, the subpoena and a later-filed lawsuit against the insured could not qualify as “Related Claims” deemed first made when the subpoena was issued. Protective Specialty Ins. Co. v. Castle Title Ins. Agency, Inc., 2020 WL 550700 (S.D.N.Y. Feb. 3, 2020). The court also held that the “warranty exclusion” in the application for the policy (in which the insured warranted that it was “not aware of any incident or circumstance which may result in a claim”) did not bar coverage for the lawsuit, even though the insured failed to disclose the subpoena in the application.

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Applying Pennsylvania law, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania has held that a shareholder demand letter, a derivative action and a shareholder lawsuit against the insured were not “related” because the alleged conduct took place at different times and involved different individuals.  Vito v. RSUI Indem. Co., 2020 WL 424592 (E.D. Pa. Jan. 27, 2020).

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In a win for Wiley Rein’s client, the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida, applying Florida law, held that, as a matter of law, a lawsuit against an engineer arising out of three alleged errors in connection with a construction project constituted a single “claim” under the engineer’s claims-made-and-reported architects and engineers policies. Nova Southeastern Univ., Inc. v. Continental Cas. Co., No. 18-CIV-61842-RAR (S.D. Fla. Dec. 27, 2019).  Furthermore, the court held that the policies’ prior knowledge and prior notice provisions separately and independently barred coverage for the lawsuit.

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Applying Illinois Law, the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois has held that an insurer had no duty to defend a claim reported more than nine months after the end of the policy period.  Wesco Ins. Co. v. Elements Architectural Grp., Inc., 2019 WL 5725440 (N.D. Ill. Nov. 5, 2019).

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A Texas intermediate appellate court, applying Texas law, has held that an insured-versus-insured (IvI) exclusion did not bar coverage for an arbitration award because the underlying dispute arose from alleged wrongful employment practices, bringing the claim within an exception to the exclusion.  Prophet Equity LP v. Twin City Fire Ins. Co., 2019 WL 3886651 (Tex. App. Aug. 19, 2019).  The court also determined that the insurer had not met its burden of proving that any portion of the arbitration award constituted uncovered loss such that an allocation should be imposed.  Id.

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The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas, applying Arkansas law, has held that coverage is unavailable for a lawsuit arising out of Interrelated Wrongful Acts at issue in an EEOC charge where the insured failed to report the EEOC charge to its insurer within the claims-made policy’s reporting period.  Pine Bluff Sch. Dist. v. ACE Am. Ins. Co., 2019 WL 3074011 (E.D. Ark. July 12, 2019).  The court also held that the insurer was not barred from denying coverage based on waiver or estoppel after it first provided a defense under a reservation of rights.

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The United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, applying Illinois law, has held that there is no coverage under a professional liability policy where the claim arose out of the same set of facts upon which a separate lawsuit against the insured was filed before the policy incepted.  Arch Ins. Co. v. PCH Healthcare Holdings, 2019 WL 3554062 (N.D. Ill. Aug. 5, 2019).  The court further held that the plain language of an exclusion for “healthcare services” precluded coverage for the claim.

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