Commercial General Liability Dispatch

Tressler’s experienced Insurance attorneys provide the latest commercial general liability news and insights.

Latest from Commercial General Liability Dispatch

In Illinois Tool Works, Inc. v. Ace Specialty Ins. Co., 2019 IL App (1st) 181945, the Illinois Appellate Court upheld the lower court’s grant of partial summary judgment to two insurance companies holding that the insurers had no duty to defend an insured in a pre-suit mediation of environmental contamination claims as said claims did not constitute a “suit” within meaning of the applicable commercial general liability (“CGL”) policy. On appeal, the court also distinguished the case from its 1997 holding in Benoy Motor Sales, Inc. v. Universal Underwriters Ins. Co., 287 Ill. App. 3d 942 (1st
In Navigators Ins. Co. v. American Home Assurance Co., 2019 WL 2583253, — S.W.3d —- (Mo. Ct. App. 2019), the Missouri Court of Appeals held that a commercial general liability insurance policy provided no coverage for claims that an electrical cooperative wrongfully installed fiber optic cable on electrical transmission easements. The court held that there was no “property damage” coverage because the use of the easement did not involve tangible property damage and there was no “personal and advertising injury” coverage because the electrical cooperative was not the “owner” of the property on which it was alleged to…
In Sterngold Dental, LLC v. HDI Global Insurance Company, ___ F.3d___, 2019 WL 2754185 (1st Cir. 2019), the First Circuit was presented the opportunity to address how to construe “the scope of the so-called intellectual property exclusion (IP exclusion) to the personal and advertising injury coverage under a standard commercial general liability policy (the Policy).” Sterngold manufactures and sells dental products. The Policy obtained by Sterngold by HDI Global Insurance Company (“HDI”) obligated HDI to defend and indemnify Sterngold against claims for damages because of “personal and advertising injury,” and contains the IP exclusion, which excluded coverage for…
In Penn National Mutual Casualty Insurance Company v. Beach Mart, Inc., — F.3d —-, 2019 WL 3483167  (4th Circ. Aug. 1, 2019) (North Carolina law), the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed and remanded a decision of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina which found that an insurer’s exclusion precluding coverage for injuries arising out of oral or written publication of material whose first publication took place before the beginning of the policy period abrogated that insurer’s duty to defend its insured in a dispute with a competitor purveyor of beach merchandise.…
UPDATE: The Third Circuit recently affirmed the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania in Transportation Ins. Co v. Heathland Hosp. Group LLC, — Fed. Appx. —-, 2019 WL 3383876, at *1 (3d Cir. July 26, 2019), a case which we wrote about last year.  Transportation arose out of a car accident in which the plaintiff’s husband was fatally injured when he was struck by a driver who allegedly became intoxicated at a country club whose drink sales were allegedly managed by the insured. The dispositive issue was whether coverage was barred by liquor liability exclusion,…
In Pennsylvania Manufacturers Indem. Co. v. Pottstown Industrial Complex, LP, 2019 WL 3281746, — A.3d —- (Pa. Super. Ct. July 22, 2019), the Pennsylvania Superior Court held an insurer owed a duty to defend its insured against a tenant’s claim for damage to its inventory from flooding during rainstorms as a result of the insured’s alleged failure to maintain the roof of the building.  Distinguishing well-established Pennsylvania law holding claims for faulty workmanship do not constitute an “occurrence,” the court held the insurer owed a duty to defend because the complaint alleged the insured’s faulty work resulted in…
In All America Ins. Co. v. Lampasona Concrete Court., 120 N.E.2d 1258 (Mass.App.Ct. 2019), a Massachusetts appellate court vacated a trial court’s decision and held the trial court erred in ruling that Exclusion J(6) precluded coverage for the cost of removing and replacing a hospital’s flooring structure when the insured subcontractor had only worked on the concrete slab underlying the floor. All America had sought a declaration that Lampasona’s CGL policy excluded coverage for damage to a vapor barrier and carpet tiles resulting from Lampasona’s negligent installation of a concrete subfloor at Beverly Hospital and that it had no duty…
In Hershey Creamery Co. v. Liberty Mutual Fire Ins. Co., No. 1:18-CV-694, 2019 WL 1988397 (M.D. Pa. May 6, 2019), the United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania held a patent and trademark infringement lawsuit against an insured triggered a duty to defend under “personal and advertising injury” coverage.  The dispositive issue was whether the complaint, which was premised on alleged infringement on the plaintiff’s marks in the insured’s in-store signage and milkshake containers, potentially alleged an “advertisement,” which was defined to mean, in relevant part, “a paid announcement that is broadcast or published in the print,…
Numerous Illinois cases have considered the question of when an insurer must defend or indemnify an additional insured. E.g., Pekin Ins. Co. v. Centex Homes, 2017 IL App (1st) 153601; National Union Fire Ins. Co. of Pittsburgh, PA. v. R. Olson Constr. Conts., Inc., 329 Ill.App.3d 228 (2d Dist. 2002); Commonwealth Edison Co. v. National Union Fire Ins. Co. of Pittsburgh, PA., 323 Ill.App.3d 970 (1st Dist. 2001).  In most additional insured coverage cases, two factors are critical to the outcome. The first is the wording of the additional insured endorsement, and the second is the extent to which facts outside the…
The Illinois Appellate Court for the First District ruled that an insured was entitled to independent counsel where its insurer was reserving rights based on a punitive damages exclusion and the claim for punitive damages was the greatest part of the insured’s exposure. In Xtreme Protection Services LLC v. Steadfast Ins. Co., 2019 IL App (1st) 181501 (Ill. App. Ct. May 3, 2019), the underlying case involved a suit against Xtreme Protection Services LLC for illegal wiretapping and sending threatening or harassing text messages. Plaintiff’s claim against Xtreme in the underlying case sought $800,000 in compensatory damages (within Steadfast’s $1…
In Evanston Ins. Co. v. A&R Homes Development, LLC, 2019 WL 661587 (N.J. Super. App. Div. Feb. 19, 2019), the Appellate Division of the Superior Court of New Jersey affirmed a trial court ruling that an exclusion for an insured’s liability to employees of its contractors or subcontractors was unambiguous and barred coverage. The case is significant on several fronts. First, it reaffirms New Jersey law that where an injured party has been made a party to a coverage action against an insured/defendant and elects not to intervene in a carrier’s efforts to disclaim coverage, the injured party will be…
In Steadfast Ins. Co. v. Greenwich Ins. Co, 2019 WI 6 (2019), the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled that an insurer that breached its duty to defend did not have to repay the full $1,550,000 that another insurer expended in defending the insured. Instead, the court apportioned the defense costs among the two insurers on a pro rata basis according to each insurer’s policy limits.The court declined to hold that the insurer who breached its duty to defend was responsible for the entire amount as a penalty, but did hold that the defending insurer was entitled to recover its attorney fees…
With social media use on the rise, insurers and insureds alike should be mindful of posts that can implicate the prior publication exclusion to coverage. In Scout, LLC v. Truck Ins. Exchange, 2019 WL 347471 — P.3d —- (Idaho Jan. 29, 2019), the Idaho Supreme Court addressed this issue in a trademark infringement case that began with what seemed like a simple Facebook post. Scout involved an Idaho LLC that purchased and renovated a downtown restaurant in Boise, turned it into a pub and began using the brand name Gone Rogue Pub. On October 10, 2012 Scout shared a public…
In American Family Mutual Ins. Co. v. Vein Centers for Excellence, Inc., 912 F.3d 1076 (8th Cir. 2018), the Eighth Circuit considered two questions. The first was whether the claims against an insured in an underlying class action suit could be aggregated to satisfy the $75,000 jurisdictional minimum for federal diversity jurisdiction of the coverage suit. The second was whether the endorsement American Family added to the policy restricting coverage for TCPA claims and other statutory violation claims was valid, and whether American Family complied with Missouri notice requirements for making substantive changes to policies. St. Louis Heart Center,…
In  Century Sur. Co. v. Andrew, 134 Nev.Adv.Op 100, No. 73756 (December 12, 2018), the Nevada Supreme Court, answering a certified question submitted by the United States District Court for the District of Nevada, held an insurer who breaches the duty to defend can be held liable for the entirety of a judgment in excess of policy limits, even if the insurer acted in good faith when it denied the defense. It also concluded, following the new Restatement of Liability Insurance, that an insurer may not rely upon extrinsic evidence to refuse to defend an insured, but if an…
In High Point Design, LLC v. LM Ins. Corp., No. 16-1446-CV, 2018 WL 6625763 (2d Cir. Dec. 19, 2018) (New York law), the Second Circuit held that an advertising injury was alleged even if the underlying complaint, standing alone, did not trigger the duty to defend where the underlying discovery demands sought information related to paid advertisements placed High Point’s advertising directly at issue. The case is significant as it reaffirms New York law, in the context of claim for insurance coverage for advertising injuries, that an insurer’s duty to defend does not turn solely on the language of the…