Applying Ohio law, a federal district court has held that misrepresentations in an application warranty statement regarding three unreported lawsuits filed against the insured during the initial policy period rendered a renewed claims-made and reported policy void ab initioCertain Underwriters at Lloyds London Subscribing to Policy No.  HMPL 18-0164 & HMPL 17-0158 v. KG Admin. Servs., Inc., 2019 WL 6770061 (N.D. Ohio Dec. 12, 2019).  The court also held that, because the claims were not reported during the initial policy period, the insurer did not have any coverage obligations under the initial policy.

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Applying California law, a federal district court has rejected an insured law firm’s argument that the terms “may” and “might” as used in connection with an application question regarding knowledge of potential claims are ambiguous and unenforceable.   Am. Alternative Ins. Corp. v. Warner, 2019 WL 6493945 (N.D. Cal. Dec. 3, 2019).

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Applying California law, a federal district court has held that an insurer was not obligated to cover a labor union’s defense costs and damages in a lawsuit brought by a former employee because the alleged wage and hour violations were not “wrongful employment practices” or “wrongful acts” under the policy.  United Farm Workers of Am. v. Hudson Ins. Co., 2019 WL 1517568 (E.D. Cal. Apr. 8, 2019).  The court also held that material misrepresentations in the labor union’s application for insurance voided the policy.

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The U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, applying California law, held that a warranty exclusion barred coverage where a start-up company made material misrepresentations regarding contemplated acquisitions in its policy application.  Scottsdale Ins. Co. v. CSC Agility Platform, Inc., 2019 WL 1452910 (C.D. Cal. Feb. 4, 2019).  The court further held that the insurer did not waive its right to enforce the warranty exclusion, nor was it estopped from doing so.

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The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, applying Pennsylvania law, has held that a professional liability insurance policy’s outside business exclusion precluded coverage for an underlying lawsuit arising out of an insured attorney’s alleged use of privileged information to benefit his own business interests.  Westport Ins. Co. v. Hippo Fleming & Pertile Law Offices, 2018 WL 4705780 (W.D. Pa. Oct 1, 2018).

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The Supreme Court of Montana has held that a Montana statute allowing insurers to “prevent a recovery” under an insurance policy in certain circumstances, including when the insured made misrepresentations or omissions in its application, does not provide a right to rescind the policy ab initioALPS Prop. & Cas. Ins. Co. v. McLean & McLean, PLLP, 2018 WL 3737950 (Mont. Aug. 7, 2018).  The court also held that an innocent insured attorney had a reasonable expectation of retaining attorney malpractice insurance by purchasing an extended reporting period endorsement.

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The West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals has reinstated a lawsuit seeking to rescind a doctor’s professional liability policy on the grounds that the insured made material misrepresentations in applying for the policy.  Admiral Ins. Co. v. Fisher, 2018 WL 2688182 (W. Va. June 6, 2018).  In reversing the trial court, the Supreme Court of Appeals noted that the insured omitted information concerning several patient overdose deaths in response to questions on the application for the policy.

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An intermediate New Jersey appellate court has affirmed a trial court’s decision concluding that no coverage was available for a legal malpractice claim because the insured law firm made material misrepresentations on its insurance renewal application in failing to disclose the insured’s knowledge of circumstances that could result in a professional liability claim.  Ironshore Indem., Inc. v. Pappas & Wolf, LLC, 2018 WL 2012009 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. May 1, 2018).

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The United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas has held that an exclusion contained in the application incorporated into the policy barring coverage for claims “based upon, arising out of or in connection with” misstatements in the application did not apply because the misstatements at issue, regarding a change in the insured’s executive leadership, were not the “but for” cause of the claimant’s alleged damages.  Columbia Lloyds Ins. Co. v. Liberty Ins. Underwriters, Inc., 2018 WL 1561816 (S.D. Tex. Mar. 30, 2018).

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The United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, applying New York law, has held that an insurer was entitled to rescind a lawyers professional liability policy because the insured law firm made a material misrepresentation in its application.  Travelers Cas. & Surety Co. of Am. v. Gold, Schollar, Moshan, PLLC, 2018 WL 1508573 (S.D.N.Y. Mar. 14, 2018).

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