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 Michigan law, a federal district court has held that common law causes of action for fraud and negligent misrepresentation are not “based on or arising out of actual or alleged violations” of ERISA or securities laws merely because they arise out of the same factual scenario.  Great Am. Fidelity Ins. Co. v. Stout Risius Ross, Inc., 2020 WL 601784 (E.D. Mich. Feb. 7, 2020).

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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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The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has held that consent-to-settle clauses in professional liability policies that give the insured absolute discretion regarding settlement do not inherently conflict with the state’s unfair insurance settlement practices statute, Mass. G.L. ch. 176D § 3(9)(f).  Rawan v. Continental Casualty Company, 136 N.E.3d 327 (Mass. Dec. 16, 2019).  The case had attracted considerable attention from amici concerned about potential disruption of the professional liability insurance market in Massachusetts if such consent-to-settle clauses were deemed impermissible.

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A federal district court applying Alabama law has held that an insurer owed no defense or indemnification obligations because the employment practices at issue in an underlying discrimination action against the insured occurred prior to the policy’s retroactive date.  Elite Refreshment Servs. LLC v. Liberty Mut. Grp., Inc., 2020 WL 470289 (N.D. Ala. Jan. 29, 2020).

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In a matter of first impression, the Delaware Superior Court has adopted the “larger settlement rule” to govern allocation of settlement amounts where (i) a settlement resolves, at least in part, insured claims; (ii) the parties cannot agree as to the allocation of amounts attributable to covered versus non-covered claims; and (iii) the policy’s allocation provision does not prescribe a specific allocation method.  Arch Ins. Co. v. Murdock, No. N16C-01-104 (Del. Super. Ct. Jan. 17, 2020).

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Applying Maryland law, the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland has held that an insurer had no right to allocate a global settlement of two underlying lawsuits between covered and non-covered claims, where the damages sought in each action were identical and based on the same misconduct.  Nat’l Union Fire Ins. Co. of Pittsburgh, Pa. v. The Fund for Animals, Inc., 2019 WL 7369221 (Md. Ct. Spec. App. Dec. 30, 2019).

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A Maryland federal district court has ruled that a ransomware event involved “direct physical loss of or damage to” software, data, and computer systems, thus triggering coverage under a businessowner’s insurance policy.  National Ink & Stitch, LLC v. State Auto Prop. & Cas. Ins. Co., No. SAG-18-2138 (D. Md. Jan. 23, 2020).

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