Eleventh Circuit Upholds Florida’s Strict Interpretation of Eight Corners Rule in Stabbing Case

In Mt. Hawley Ins. Co. v. Roebuck, the liability insurer for the owners of a Florida outdoor shopping mall sought to avoid coverage in connection with a stabbing that occurred at the mall based on the insureds’ failure to comply with conditions precedent to coverage. The Eleventh Circuit, however, in agreement with the district court, found that because the facts extrinsic to complaint that were necessary to establish the conditions’ application were in dispute, the insurer owed a duty to defend.

Mt. Hawley …

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Court Finds That Insurer’s Duty to Defend is Not Cut Off by Judicial Admission by Insured

An insured’s admission in an answer to a declaratory judgment complaint dispositive of coverage was not considered by the Middle District of Pennsylvania. Instead, the court looked only to the allegations in the underlying complaint and held that an insurer had a duty to defend its insured.

The insured was sued in an underlying bodily injury lawsuit arising from a motor vehicle accident. In the complaint against the insured, the underlying plaintiff alleged that the vehicle driven by the insured’s employee was an auto covered …

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Depositing Policy Limits Does Not End the Duty to Defend

An Oregon federal court revisited a common coverage question that comes up from time to time: When indemnity for a loss is reasonably clear, can an insurer limit its defense expense exposure by simply depositing the policy limits with the court? The answer, according to this court, and most other courts around the country, is no.[1]

The liability policy in U.S. Fire Ins. V. Mother Earth School contained the commonly-found insuring agreement language which provides, in relevant part, that an insurer’s right and duty …

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Florida Appellate Court Narrows Exception to Four Corners Rule

The general rule for determining whether a duty to defend exists for a particular claim is easily stated. If the allegations against the insured fall within the scope of coverage afforded by a liability policy, then the insurer has a duty to defend its insured. This general rule is commonly referred to as the four corners rule.

However, insurers frequently face a dilemma in determining whether they have a duty to defend where the allegations in a tendered suit arguably fall within the scope of coverage under …

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The Evolving Impact of Burlington v. NYC Transit: In New York, is Proximate Causation Necessary to Trigger the Duty to Defend an Additional Insured?

In previous blog posts this year, and to keep up with how courts are interpreting the New York Court of Appeals 2017 decision in Burlington Ins. Co. v. NYC Transit Auth., 29 N.Y.3d 313 (2017), we discussed the trial court’s decision in M & M Realty of New York, LLC v. Burlington Ins. Co. and the First Department’s reversal in the same case. Recently, a New York Supreme Court Judge decided American Empire Surplus Lines Ins. Co. v. Arch Specialty Ins., No. 655234/2018, …

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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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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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It’s not “12 Corners” — Court Holds Answer does not Trigger Duty to Defend

It is a well-known insurance principle that the duty to defend is determined using the “Eight-Corners” method — comparing the four corners of the complaint to the four corners of the insurance policy. A federal court in Illinois recently maintained this principle and declined to extend coverage to an insured based allegations in the insured’s answer, limiting the analysis of the duty to defend only to the facts alleged in the complaint, and not the answer, unless “unusual circumstances” exist.

In the underlying complaint, the …

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The Road Less Traveled: In a Case of First Impression, Indiana Court of Appeals Holds SIR Applicable to Additional Insureds

In Walsh Construction Co. v. Zurich American Insurance Co., 2017 Ind. App. LEXIS 137 (Mar. 28, 2017), the Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of Zurich American Insurance Company and against Walsh Construction Company. In a case of first impression, the Court of Appeals held that a self-insured retention (SIR) applied not only to the insurer’s relationship with the named insured, but also, to any additional insureds. Thus, because the named insured failed to fulfill its …

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Intoxication Not a Defense to Expected or Intended Injury Exclusion, Massachusetts Appellate Court Says

In Liberty Mutual Fire Insurance Co. v. Casey, 91 Mass. App. Ct. 243 (Mar. 29, 2017), the Massachusetts Appeals Court held in essence, that the insured (Casey)’s impairment due to alcohol and drugs at the time of the underlying assault did not render the insurance policy’s expected or intended exclusion inapplicable. The undisputed facts established that Casey had the capacity to form the requisite intent to injure the underlying plaintiff.

Seventeen-year-old Casey “sucker punched” Williams, the underlying plaintiff, in the face with a closed …

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