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Heather L. McCoy
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The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit recently affirmed a lower court’s denial of reimbursement for defense costs where the insured rejected representation following its insurer’s issuance of a reservation of rights letter. In Downhole Navigator, L.L.C. v. Nautilus Insurance Company,decided on June 29, 2012, the insured, Downhole Navigator, L.L.C. (Downhole), appeals from an order granting partial summary judgment in favor of the insurer, Nautilus Insurance Company (Nautilus), and ruling that Nautilus was not required to reimburse Downhole for the cost of its independent counsel. This matter arose when Downhole, a company providing services to the oil... Continue reading
Posted Aug 17, 2012 at Insurance Developments
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The New Jersey Appellate Division recently delivered an opinion affirming a lower court’s denial of coverage for defense costs where a policy’s pollution exclusion was found unambiguously applicable. Spartan Oil Co. v. New Jersey Property-Liability Ins. Guaranty Assoc., In Spartan Oil Co., the policyholder, Spartan Oil Co. (Spartan), appealed from an order granting summary judgment in favor of New Jersey Property-Liability Insurance Guaranty Associations (NJPLIGA) and dismissing Spartan’s coverage action for environmental contamination. In the early 1990s, Spartan, a heating oil delivery company, purchased and subsequently renewed a commercial motor vehicle liability policy for coverage of its oil delivery vehicles.... Continue reading
Posted Jul 2, 2012 at Insurance Developments
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The housing boom of the mid-2000s led to a shortage of American-manufactured drywall. Builders and suppliers turned to drywall manufacturers in China to supply their needs. However, shortly after the drywall was installed, problems were noticed. It was uncovered that the Chinese-manufactured drywall contained excessive amounts of hydrogen sulfide, which allegedly damaged metal fixtures and wiring, caused a rotten-egg smell, and led to health problems such as skin and eye irritations, headaches, bloody noses, and respiratory issues. Thousands of lawsuits were initiated between homeowners, builders, suppliers and their respective insurers. Recently, the United States District Court Middle District of Florida,... Continue reading
Posted Apr 30, 2012 at Insurance Developments
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In a recent decision, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit determined that a jury’s rejection of an insured’s bad faith claim does not preclude an award of fees pursuant to South Dakota statute where an insurance company’s refusal to pay an insured’s claim is “vexatious or without reasonable cause.” Tripp v. Western Nat. Mut. Ins. Co., 664 F.3d 1200 (8th Cir. 2011). A copy of the court’s decision is available here. After sustaining injuries in a motor vehicle accident, the insured plaintiff, Cindy Tripp (“Tripp”), settled with the other driver for $87,500, just short of the... Continue reading
Posted Mar 19, 2012 at Insurance Developments
The New Jersey Supreme Court recently held in Flomerfelt v. Cardiello that an insurer has a duty to defend a homeowner whose guest overdosed on illegal drugs. This ruling reversed an appeals court decision which found that the insurer did not have a duty to defend because the policy excludes claims “arising out of the use, transfer or possession of controlled dangerous substances." Plaintiff Wendy Flomerfelt (“Flomerfelt”), who was twenty-one years old at the time, suffered temporary and permanent injuries after she overdosed on alcohol and drugs during a party hosted by defendant Matthew Cardiello at his parents’ home while... Continue reading
Posted Jul 19, 2010 at Insurance Developments
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Six years after issuing the landmark Zubulake decisions (Zubulake v. UBS Warbug LLC, 220 F.R.D. 212 (2003); Zubulake v. UBS Warbug LLC, 229 F.R.D. 422 (2004)), Judge Shira A. Scheindlin, of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, delivered another important opinion clearly defining the responsibilities of litigants and counsel during discovery. Pension Committee of the University of Montreal Pension Plan v. Banc of America Securities, 2010 WL 184312 (S.D.N.Y. Jan. 15, 2010). In a lengthy, yet thoughtful and well-reasoned decision, Judge Scheindlin provides an analytical framework for addressing discovery misconduct. Much like her Zubulake... Continue reading
Posted May 13, 2010 at Insurance Developments
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May 13, 2010