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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The Irony of Not Fixing What Isn’t Broken: Wisconsin Supreme Court Refuses to Consider Extrinsic Evidence of Subcontractors’ Involvement in Replacement of Damaged Well Pump

Bootstrapping upon its decision in Marks v. Houston Casualty Co., 2016 WI 53, the Wisconsin Supreme Court in Water Well Solutions Service Group Inc. v. Consolidated Insurance Co., 2016 WI 54, affirmed summary judgment in favor of the insurer. The Supreme Court concluded, based upon a four-corners analysis, that the policy’s “your product” exclusion barred coverage entirely for the underlying lawsuit. The Supreme Court further rejected the insured’s invitation to recognize an exception to the four-corners rule to allow courts to examine extrinsic …

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Impactful Wisconsin Supreme Court Decision Overturns “Unsound” Precedent

In Marks v. Houston Casualty Company, the Wisconsin Supreme Court reached a decision upholding the application of a business enterprise exclusion in a professional liability policy. Importantly, the decision clarifies Wisconsin law such that an insurer may rely upon policy exclusions in denying coverage outright.

The coverage dispute arose out of six lawsuits filed against David Marks for his involvement in various enterprises across different industries. The lawsuits generally alleged Marks, as an officer or director of numerous entities (including Titan Global Holdings, Inc.), …

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It’s Not a Blob, It’s a Probiotic: Wisconsin Supreme Court Applies the “Integrated Systems” Rule in Coverage Dispute

In Wisconsin Pharmacal Company, LLC v. Nebraska Cultures of California, Inc., 2016 WI 14, the Wisconsin Supreme Court applied the “integrated systems” rule to a coverage dispute. In a narrow decision, it reversed the Court of Appeals decision and determined that the incorporation of a defective ingredient into a tablet did not constitute “property damage” caused by an “occurrence.” Further, the Wisconsin Supreme Court concluded that even if “property damage” was alleged, exclusions would apply to bar coverage.

The coverage dispute arose when a …

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Wisconsin’s Strict Exhaustion Requirement Burns Insurer

In Burgraff v. Menard, Inc., 2016 WI 11 (Wis. 2016), the Wisconsin Supreme Court affirmed a Court of Appeals decision that determined Millers First Insurance Company breached its continuing duty to defend Menard, Inc. Specifically, the issue was whether Millers First should have continued its defense of Menard even after it reached a settlement with the plaintiff, Kenneth Burgraff, for its proportionate share of the claim. This is an important decision which reiterates the strict requirements of complete exhaustion in order for an insurer’s …

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