Seventh Circuit: No Insurable Interest, No Problem (For the Beneficiary, That Is!)

The Seventh Circuit recently affirmed a district court decision upholding payment under a life insurance policy purchased by a securities intermediary. The decision first addressed the common law’s prohibition on wagering contracts, or stranger-originated life insurance, and the traditional remedy which invalidates any such policy of insurance. However, this case was subject to Wisconsin law, whose legislature places the risk on the insurer for issuing a policy to someone without an insurable interest by refusing to invalidate such contracts. Specifically, the Wisconsin statute reads (Wis. …

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Exceptionally Navigating Abstention: Northern District of Illinois Applies the Colorado River Doctrine to Stay Arbitration

An insurer and a policyholder entered into an agreement, or didn’t they? Either way, the Northern District of Illinois doesn’t have to decide because “exceptional circumstances” triggered the Colorado River abstention doctrine, allowing the court to stay the case asking it to determine whether the agreement existed.

A policyholder and one of its insurers began having disputes about who had to provide coverage for certain claims. As a result of those disputes, the policyholder and the insurer allegedly entered into an agreement in 2007, where …

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“It Wasn’t Me, It Was Lil Johnny!” Wisconsin District Court Holds Third-Party Publication Triggers Prior Publication Exclusion

In Design Basics LLC v. J & V Roberts Investments, Inc., No. 14-cv-1083-JPS, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 121372 (E.D. Wis. Sept. 11, 2015), the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin determined, in pertinent part, that in a case involving allegations of copyright infringement, a commercial general liability insurer, Acuity A Mutual Insurance Company (Acuity), had no duty to defend because the prior publication exclusion barred coverage.

The dispute arose when the plaintiffs, who are engaged in the business of publishing …

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Wisconsin Supreme Court Determines Notice-Prejudice Rule Does Not Apply To Claims-Made-and-Reported Requirement

In Anderson v. Aul, 2015 WI 19 (2015), the Wisconsin Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals and held that Wisconsin’s notice-prejudice statutes did not apply to the reporting requirements in claims-made-and-reported policies.

The underlying case involved a malpractice lawsuit filed by Melissa and Kenneth Anderson against their former attorney, Thomas Aul, alleging that Mr. Aul continued to represent the Andersons in a purchase of commercial property transaction, although he had an unwaivable conflict of interest. On December 23, 2009, Mr. …

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Wisconsin Federal District Court Chides Insurers for Inaction, Deems Insurers Estopped from Asserting Their Right To Defend

In Haley v. Kolbe & Kolbe Millwork Co., Inc., No. 14-cv-99-bbc, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 42584 (W.D. Wis. Apr. 1, 2015) the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin granted summary judgment in favor of the insured, Kolbe & Kolbe Millwork Co. (Kolbe), holding that Fireman’s Fund Insurance Company and United States Fire Insurance Company (collectively the “insurers”) were estopped from having the right to select counsel to represent Kolbe in a class action lawsuit alleging the sale of defective windows.

The …

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Injuries Caused By a Gas Explosion Covered By Pollution Liability Policy

In Acuity, A Mut. Ins. Co. v. Chartis Specialty Ins. Co., 2015 WI 28, P52 (Wis. 2015), the Wisconsin Supreme Court has held that a pollution liability policy issued by Chartis Specialty Insurance Co., covered lawsuits alleging property damage and bodily injury caused by a natural gas line explosion. The policy, held by a construction company, was found to be implicated because natural gas is a pollutant and contaminant, the escape of which was a “pollution condition” within the meaning of the policy. The …

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