Tag Archives: duty to defend

Miller Nash Graham & Dunn Represents United Policyholders on Pollution Exclusion in Ninth Circuit

We are honored to represent United Policyholders (a non-profit advocacy organization for policyholders) on an issue of great concern to many of our commercial clients, and in particular those in the construction industry: the scope of the so-called “absolute pollution exclusion.” Our amicus brief to the Ninth Circuit for UP on the issue was filed on … Continue Reading

Montana: Insurer Breached Duty to Defend Even if Policyholder Was Defended by Another Insurer

The Montana Supreme Court issued a decision Thanksgiving week clarifying that when a policyholder is owed a defense by multiple general liability insurers, all of those insurers must participate in the defense, or risk severe penalties for breaching the duty to defend.  In J&C Moodie Properties LLC v. Scottsdale Insurance Company the court held that Scottsdale Insurance … Continue Reading

Additional Insured Promises Mean Companies May Pay Twice for Employee Injuries

Most business owners understand that in exchange for paying premiums for workers compensation insurance, they get immunity from suit from their own injured employees.  This is usually referred to as the workers compensation “exclusive remedy”: if an employee accepts workers compensation insurance benefits, the employee may not sue the employer (subject to certain exceptions for … Continue Reading

Different Approaches to the Duty to Defend in Oregon and Washington

Oregon and Washington are often viewed as sister states, similar in their climates, policies and attitudes. Yet, while the two states share a border and a uniquely Pacific Northwest culture, their approaches to insurance law differ greatly. In particular, the legal protections to prevent insurers from wrongfully refusing to defend a policyholder against a covered … Continue Reading

From the UP Blog: Portland Harbor Superfund Litigation Has “Super” Implications For Policyholders

I was privileged enough to be invited to write the following guest blog post on May 2, 2016 for the blog of United Policyholders, an advocacy organization for commercial and personal-lines policyholders.  Our firm has had the privilege of writing several amicus briefs for UP over the years, including one discussed below.  UP is a … Continue Reading

Insurer Sues to Terminate Defense of Premera Cyber Breach

On December 8, 2015 an insurer for Premera Blue Cross sued to terminate its defense obligation (and any indemnity obligation) in a class-action lawsuit involving the theft of 11 million medical records.  We have previously reported on the massive Premera breach and the many class action lawsuits that followed the breach (now consolidated in Oregon), here.  The … Continue Reading

Oregon Supreme Court Overrules 40-Year Precedent on Covenant Judgments

Good news for policyholders today from the Oregon Supreme Court: the court overruled the 42-year-old Stubblefield decision, making it much easier for defendants in litigation to protect themselves if their insurance company fails to reach a reasonable settlement with the plaintiff. Today’s decision in Brownstone Homes Condo Ass’n v. Brownstone Forest Heights LLC means that … Continue Reading

Absolute Pollution Exclusions Are Not Absolute

Insurance is a crucial source of funding for most environmental cleanups. For the past 30 years, comprehensive general liability insurance policies have uniformly included an “absolute pollution exclusion” in some form or another. The earliest such exclusions appeared in the 1950’s, but they became ubiquitous boilerplate in the mid-1980s. As a result, most applicable environmental … Continue Reading

Oregon Duty to Defend is Very Broad, as Shown in Two New Cases

Two new decisions from federal courts in Oregon demonstrate just how broad an insurance company’s contractual duty to defend its insured truly is.  These decisions should be helpful to policyholders in fighting back against denials of coverage.  Wrongful denials of defense are unfortunately common in Oregon, due to the absence of a meaningful bad faith … Continue Reading

Ninth Circuit Hands Oregon Policyholders a Major Win on”Known Loss”

In a June 25, 2015, to-be-published decision in Kaady v. Mid-Continent Casualty Co. the Ninth Circuit adopted a decidedly pro-policyholder interpretation of the oft-contested “known loss” provision that is standard in commercial general liability (CGL) policies, holding that an insured’s knowledge of damage to one part of a structure does not allow an insurer to deny coverage for … Continue Reading

Did the Ore Sup Ct Abolish Common Law Indemnity for Defense Costs?

“Frequent-fliers” in the world of construction-defect litigation know that defense costs are often the biggest exposure, particularly for subcontractors.  That is why securing a paid-for defense from an insurance carrier is such a hot topic on this blog (and elsewhere).  And whether there is insurance to cover defense costs or not, defendants in complex disputes … Continue Reading

Or. Fed Court Rejects “Hail Mary” Insurer Argument Against Attorney Fees

The dispute between Schnitzer Steel and its carriers over defense at the Portland Harbor Superfund Site has been addressed many times in this blog, because it has raised many novel and fascinating (to me, anyway!) issues.  Here is the latest: on November 12, 2014 Judge Mosman ruled on Schnitzer’s motion for attorney fees after Schnitzer … Continue Reading

Wash. Fed. Court Orders Trial on AIG Defense Rates

The long-running federal court litigation between Washington company Coinstar/Redbox and its insurer, AIG, took a turn last week, with good news and bad for the policyholder.  The backstory: Redbox has been sued in several different jurisdictions for collecting information about its customers that it was not permitted to collect; the allegations are, generally, that Redbox … Continue Reading

Oregon Federal Court Affirms Breadth of Duty to Defend

An Oregon federal judge recently reaffirmed a broad approach to the duty to defend in a carrier-on-carrier dispute.  The case is Seneca Insurance v. James River Insurance.  As with many such cases in Oregon, the dispute centered around defective construction, this time on the coast.  Plaintiff insurer, Seneca, agreed to defend its insured, a contractor.  Seneca … Continue Reading

Washington Federal Court Orders Broad Discovery of AIG Defense Rates

A significant win for policyholders in a discovery dispute over internal carrier records.  AIG and Coinstar/Redbox have been locked in coverage litigation in the Western District of Washington for some time over AIG’s obligation to defend Redbox in several class actions alleging that Redbox has violated privacy laws in its handling of consumer information.  Redbox … Continue Reading

Insurers Trying to Have It Both Ways on ‘First Party’ v ‘Third Party’

Insurance carrier-side lawyers are celebrating the result in Cox v. Continental Casualty Company, a decision out of the Western District of Washington  in which Judge Pechman held that Washington’s Insurance Fair Conduct Act (IFCA) does not apply to claims under liability policies because the policyholder there is not a “first-party claimant,” and IFCA specifically refers to … Continue Reading

Wash. Court of Appeals Gets It Dead Wrong on What Is a “Suit”

Earlier this week Division One of the Washington Court of Appeals issued its much-anticipated decision in the Gull Industries v. State Farm litigation.  The issue was whether a letter from the state equivalent of the EPA constitutes a “suit” under a standard-form legacy GL policy (that is, a policy issued before the ISO form defined “suit”). … Continue Reading

Another Strong Ruling on Prejudgment Interest From Oregon’s Federal Courts

Oregon’s federal court has struck another blow against the insurance industry’s attempts to limit prejudgment interest in duty-to-defend disputes.  Somewhat ironically, this ruling comes a case that has turned into a carrier v. carrier fight over contribution. In the latest ruling in the long-running Northwest Pipe v. RLI coverage litigation, the court held that a non-defending carrier … Continue Reading
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