Coronavirus Consumer Protection Class Action: First Up – Germ-X

In what will likely be the first of many consumer protection lawsuits involving the Coronavirus (COVID-19), a group of California consumers filed a federal class action complaint alleging Vi-Jon, Inc. falsely advertised, marketed, and sold its Germ-X brand hand sanitizers as being able to prevent viruses, including COVID-19. As the COVID-19 pandemic grows in size and scope, consumers are gravitating to products to provide some degree of security and comfort. In light of the CDC’s recommendations to use hand sanitizer to prevent the spread of …

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Texas Supreme Court Hears Argument on Whether to Adopt Exception to Eight-Corner Rule

At oral argument in the case of State Farm Lloyds v. Janet Richards,[1] the Texas Supreme Court heard from both sides on whether or not Texas courts should recognize a policy-language based exception to the eight-corners rule, applied when evaluating whether an insurer can introduce extrinsic evidence to contest its duty to defend the insured for a third-party liability claim. The so-called eight-corners rule allows a court to refer only to the relevant policy terms and factual allegations in the complaint against the …

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Washington State Supreme Court Holds That Insurance Adjusters Cannot Be Liable for Bad Faith

In a highly anticipated decision, the Supreme Court of Washington closed the door on statutory bad faith claims against insurer-employed adjusters. The case is Moun Keodalah and Aung Keodala v. Allstate Insurance Company, Tracey Smith., and John Doe Smith, — P.3d – (2019, 2019 WL 4877438 (Wash. Oct. 3, 2019).

The case arose out of a 2007 accident, when an uninsured motorcyclist struck the plaintiff’s truck, killing the motorcyclist and injuring the plaintiff. The police investigated the collision and determined the motorcyclist had …

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Texas Supreme Court Asked to Decide if Texas Recognizes Limited Exception to Eight-Corners Rule

In State Farm Lloyds v. Richards, the federal appellate court asked the Texas Supreme Court to decide whether Texas law recognizes a limited exception to the so-called eight-corners rule applied when evaluating an insurer’s duty to defend its insured for a third-party liability claim.[1]

Under the eight-corners rule (referred to as the four corners rule in some jurisdictions), an insurer’s duty to defend is measured by the allegations of the complaint and the language of the policy.  Evidence outside of these materials is …

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No Defense Owed to Insured for Mediation Involving Environmental Contamination

The Illinois Appellate Court recently held that the term “suit” in a commercial general liability policy does not include a pre-suit mediation between the insured and others over the allocation of costs incurred to remediate environmental contamination. As a result, the court ruled that the insurers had no obligation to reimburse the insured for its legal fees incurred in the mediation.[1]

The insured operated a manufacturing facility on a property that was eventually declared a Superfund site by the U.S. EPA. To avoid litigation …

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Climate Change Litigation: Where Are the Coverage Suits?

There is an interesting question surrounding the present generation of climate change lawsuits currently working their way through the court system. Specifically, where are the duty to defend actions related to these suits?

Background

By way of background, there are two types of climate change lawsuits currently working their way through the courts:

  1. Those filed by government entities that seek to hold energy companies responsible for the costs that government entities are forced to expend in adapting to climate change, and which could be susceptible
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Contractual Liability Exclusion Defeats General Contractor’s Bid Against Six Insurers for Defense and Indemnity in West Virginia

West Virginia’s highest court recently handed down a well-articulated decision on the scope of a CGL policy’s insuring agreement and exclusion for contractual liability, which could be influential to other courts who struggle with these commonly-litigated issues.

On May 1, 2019, the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals unanimously upheld summary judgment to six insurance companies in a declaratory judgment action relating to a property developer’s suit against its general contractor over construction defects at a shopping center. The insurers had issued a series of …

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Eleventh Circuit: When an Insurer Has a Duty to Defend, Its Duty to Indemnify Is Not Ripe Until Resolution of the Underlying Lawsuit

With limited exception, an insurer that owes a duty to defend to its insured cannot litigate whether it also has a duty to indemnify the insured for the same matter until after the insured’s liability has been resolved. In a unanimous decision, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, applying Florida law, affirmed this principle and held that an insurer’s duty to indemnify is not justiciable until the insured’s liability has been adjudicated in the underlying case. Mid-Continent Cas. Co. v. Delacruz Drywall

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South Carolina High Court Allows Malpractice Claim by Insurer Against its Assigned Defense Counsel

Early March, in a narrow, carefully worded opinion, a divided Supreme Court of South Carolina ruled that a liability insurer may sue an attorney it retained to defend its insured where the attorney’s breach of its duty to the insured proximately causes the insurer damage. The decision adds South Carolina to the growing list of states that recognize a malpractice cause of action by an insurer against its assigned defense counsel. See Sentry Insurance Co. v. Maybank Law Firm, LLC, — S.E.2d —, 2019 WL 1119977, at …

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Wisconsin Top Court Limits “Knowing Violation” Exclusion By Looking Beyond Facts Alleged in Complaint

In a decision that could expand the scope of the duty to defend, the Wisconsin Supreme Court recently held that a “knowing violation of the rights of another” exclusion did not apply even though the facts alleged suggested that it should. The court looked beyond the four corners of the complaint, which alleged willful and intentional conduct, and held that the insurer owed a duty to defend because some causes of action asserted in the complaint could potentially be satisfied by non-intentional conduct. 

In West

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