Claim Based on Acts Pre-Dating Retroactive Date Not Covered

The United States District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi, applying Mississippi law, has granted summary judgment in favor of an insurer, holding that a professional liability policy did not afford coverage for a lawsuit against two insured attorneys because the alleged malpractice occurred before the operative retroactive date in the policy. Imperium Ins. Co. v. Shelton & Assocs., P.A., 2016 WL 1260749 (N.D. Miss. Mar. 30, 2016).

Two insured attorneys were sued for alleged instances of malpractice taking place between 2007 and 2011. They sought coverage under a professional liability policy affording coverage for claims first made and reported during the policy period for wrongful acts “occurring on or after the Retroactive Date” of February 1, 2013 that was applicable to the two attorneys.

While defending the underlying action under a reservation of rights, the insurer brought suit seeking a declaration that it had no duty to defend or indemnify the two attorneys in connection with the lawsuit because all of the alleged wrongful acts took place prior to the policy’s Retroactive Date. Based upon the “clear and unambiguous terms” of the policy, the court agreed, and upon finding no genuine issues of material fact, granted summary judgment in favor of the insurer on that basis.


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