Posts in Industry News.
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Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP’s insurance coverage practice was once again recognized among the top policyholder insurance practices nationally, receiving a Band 2 national ranking in the 2024 United States Edition of The Legal 500 for Insurance: Advice to Policyholders. The Legal 500 ranks the nation’s top law firms, practices, and lawyers, highlighting those that consistently provide “the most cutting edge and innovative advice to corporate counsel … based on feedback from 300,000 clients worldwide, submissions from law firms and interviews with leading private practice lawyers, and a team of researchers who have unrivalled experience in the legal market.”

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Congratulations to Jae Lynn Huckaba on winning the Miami-Dade Bar Association Young Lawyer Section’s inaugural Rookie of the Year Award. This year, the MDB YLS Officers created the Rookie of the Year Award to recognize one new MDB Board of Director who consistently moves the YLS forward. President of the YLS, Beau Blumberg, stated, “Jae Lynn jumped right into the YLS, helping wherever it was needed, from the Breakfast with the Judiciary event to Miami Nights to multiple service projects and social events. After one year, we know Jae Lynn is destined for great things in the YLS.”

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In November 2023 and January 2024, Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP released the first two issues of its AI and Emerging Technologies Newsletter. Both publications featured contributions from insurance coverage partner Michael Levine and associate Alex Pappas, which analyze significant issues at the intersection of insurance and AI.  

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Washington, DC-based partner Michael Levine has been recognized for his extensive experience and insights into emerging and legacy property and business interruption insurance coverage issues by being selected to Law360’s 2024 Editorial Advisory Board for Insurance Authority Property. As a member of the board, Mike will provide feedback on Law360’s coverage of property issues and expert insight on how best to shape future reporting of issues affecting businesses across all industry sectors.

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We are pleased to announce that counsel Rachel E. Hudgins has been recognized as one of Business Insurance’s 2024 Break Out Award winners. The magazine’s Break Out Awards honor 40 top professionals each year from a competitive field of nominees who have under 15 years’ experience in the insurance and risk management sector and are “on track to be the next leaders in the risk management and property/casualty insurance field.”

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The United States Supreme Court recently held in Great Lakes Ins. SE v. Raiders Retreat Realty Co., LLC, that choice-of-law provisions in maritime contracts, including maritime insurance policies, are presumptively enforceable under federal maritime law. In Great Lakes, a policyholder asserted counterclaims against its insurer under the state law of Pennsylvania, where the insurer had filed a federal-court action seeking a declaration of no coverage, even though the choice-of-law provision in the applicable maritime insurance policy designated New York law. The policyholder argued that Pennsylvania had the greatest interest in the dispute, and that enforcing the New York choice-of-law provision in the policy would contravene Pennsylvania’s fundamental public policy. The district court dismissed the policyholder’s counterclaims, but the Third Circuit reversed. The Supreme Court agreed to hear the case, and we explained here that the Court’s decision could have significant ramifications for insurance-coverage disputes both under maritime insurance policies and more generally if the Court adopted broad rules regarding the enforcement of choice-of-law provisions.  

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On February 7, the Emory Public Interest Committee (EPIC) honored insurance coverage partner Lawrence (Larry) J. Bracken II with their 2024 Lifetime Commitment to Public Service Award at the annual EPIC Inspiration Awards. As one of the Emory University School of Law’s signature events, the Inspiration Awards celebrate members of the community who do extraordinary work in the public interest and provide funding for public interest summer jobs.

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We are pleased to announce that Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP insurance coverage partner Andrea DeField was named to the South Florida Business Journal’s 2024 list of Influential Business Women. The award celebrates 25 women who have a strong record of leadership, performance and innovation in their industry, as well as meaningful community involvement. This distinction is well-deserved given Andi’s leadership in the cyber insurance space, contribution to the firm’s pro bono efforts, and longstanding record of community involvement in South Florida.

Andi and the other ...

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Adriana Perez, a Miami-based insurance coverage associate at Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP, was appointed to co-chair the National Association of Women Lawyers' (“NAWL”) Women in Insurance Practice Area Affinity Group. This group is designed for women lawyers to connect and facilitate discussion, brainstorming and consultation with one another regarding hot button topics across the entire insurance industry.

As co-chair, Adriana will help lead events and webinars to connect members, garner new membership and encourage young women in law school to explore the insurance ...

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Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP is pleased to announce the release of the inaugural edition of our AI and Emerging Technologies Newsletter. The newsletter focuses on multidisciplinary, current topics affecting businesses in the AI and emerging technology industry. Inside our first edition, we cover a bit of what you need to know about AI in the context of contract terms and conditions, US privacy laws, insurance, employer use monitoring and workforce management, and copyright law, as well as the rise in crypto class actions. Our first edition also includes an article written by insurance ...

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The United States Supreme Court recently accepted review of In re Kaiser Gypsum Co., Inc., 60 F.4th 73 (4th Cir. 2023), a Fourth Circuit decision concerning “whether an insurer with financial responsibility for a bankruptcy claim is a ‘party in interest’ that may object to a Chapter 11 plan of reorganization.” This issue, while one of first impression for the SCOTUS, has been litigated several times in the appellate courts, leading to a circuit split over the interplay between Article III and 11 U.S.C. Section 1109(b). 

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Most modern liability insurance policies have provisions addressing whether different claims are “related” (or “interrelated”) for assessing potential coverage. Because the answer of whether two claims are “related” depends heavily on the facts giving rise to the underlying claims, the policy language, and applicable law, questions about relatedness can lead to significant insurance coverage disputes.

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Last week, the Delaware Insurance Commissioner announced a series of process and regulatory improvements to the state’s captive regime. Building upon last year's significant amendments to DGCL 145(g) expressly permitting captives to cover D&O liability, Bulletin No. 14 outlines several requirements for captives to write Side A D&O policies for Delaware corporations, including several process changes intended to improve approval timelines and speed to market.

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The Eleventh Circuit recently confirmed the rule that “other insurance” clauses should not be used to disadvantage policyholders. Nat’l Cas. Co. v. Georgia Sch. Bd. Ass’n - Risk Mgmt. Fund, No. 22-13779, 2023 WL 5977299, at *1 (11th Cir. Sept. 14, 2023). In a dispute between an insurance company and a public risk management fund, both insurance policies included “other insurance” clauses stating that each insurer would only provide excess insurance coverage where the policyholder is covered by other insurance. The district court found that the clauses were irreconcilable because both insurance policies could not provide only excess insurance coverage—at least one policy would need to provide primary coverage. Because of the conflict, the Georgia federal district court applied Georgia’s irreconcilable-clauses rule and held that each policy must provide coverage to the policyholder on a pro rata basis. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court’s application of Georgia’s irreconcilable-clauses rule.

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Boston-based insurance coverage partner Geoffrey Fehling has been appointed to the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce’s Financial Services Leadership Council.

The Chamber’s Leadership Councils—focusing on topics like climate and energy, health care and life sciences, and higher education—draw together select groups of business leaders with an interest in specific policy areas to connect with one another, share ideas and perspectives, and help inform and develop the Chamber’s policy positions. The Financial Services Leadership Councill works to identify ...

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Hunton Partner, Lorelie S. Masters, was recently named to Benchmark Litigation’s 2023 Top 250 Women in Litigation. The publication honors the accomplishments and distinguished careers of female litigators nationwide and recognizes them as top players in their respective fields. Benchmark Litigation highlighted, “Lorelie Masters has won significant decisions, trials, and arbitrations enforcing insurance for clients, including confidential international arbitrations and litigations for clients like New Century Liquidating Trust, Hoechst Celanese/Ticona, and ...

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Last week, we published a client alert discussing the importance of cyber and directors and officers liability insurance for companies and their executives to guard against cyber-related exposures.  In today’s ever-changing threat landscape, all organizations are at risk of damaging cyber incidents, and resulting investigations and lawsuits, underscoring the importance of utilizing all tools in a company’s risk mitigation toolkit, including insurance, to address these exposures. 

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The Supreme Court of New Jersey recently agreed to hear ACE American Insurance Company’s appeal of an Appellate Division decision finding that a war exclusion in a property insurance policy did not preclude coverage for Merck & Co., Inc.’s claim stemming from a 2017 cyberattack. We previously reported about this case here.   

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Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP’s insurance practice was recognized among the top policyholder insurance practices nationally, receiving a Band 2 national ranking in the 2023 United States Edition of The Legal 500 for Advice to Policyholders. The Legal 500 ranks the nation’s top law firms, practices, and lawyers, highlighting those that consistently provide “the most cutting edge and innovative advice to corporate counsel … based on feedback from 300,000 clients worldwide, submissions from law firms and interviews with leading private practice lawyers, and a team of researchers who have unrivalled experience in the legal market.”

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Partner Geoffrey Fehling, who leads the firm’s Boston insurance coverage practice, has been appointed to co-chair the Director and Officer Liability Committee of the American Bar Association’s Business Law Section. The Committee is part of the ABA Business Law Section’s global network of over 30,000 business law professionals interested in expanding their knowledge, engaging with their professional communities, and advancing their experience through Section committees, programs, and meetings.

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The Superior Court of New Jersey Appellate Division recently upheld a lower court’s finding that the war exclusion in a property insurance policy did not preclude coverage for Merck’s claim stemming from a 2017 cyberattack. The decision is appropriately being heralded as a huge win for policyholders and an affirmance of New Jersey’s longstanding history of protecting policyholders’ reasonable expectations. We previously blogged about developments relating to the war exclusion and the Merck case when it was initially heard by the Appellate Division.

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Artificial intelligence technology (“AI”) is poised to radically improve human functionality, although some say the technology is quietly learning how to overtake it. In the meantime, the insurance industry has been using AI to save time, attain consistency and improve risk mitigation. However, while the industry looks forward to cost savings and better business utilizing generative AI, some insurers have simultaneously cautioned policyholders about the potential risks that reliance on AI may pose. Insurer’s cautionary statements cast doubt on the integrity of their own reliance on the technology.

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Six members of Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP’s insurance coverage team (Walter Andrews, Lorie Masters, Koorosh "KT" Talieh, Larry Bracken, Mike Levine and Scott DeVries) attended the American College of Coverage Counsel’s annual meeting in Chicago, where Lorie Masters received the College’s prestigious Thomas F. Segalla Service Award. The College annually bestows the award in recognition of dedication and service to the College. Named in honor of the College's first president, the award recognizes recipients that demonstrate Creativity, Visibility, and Persistence, three characteristics that embody the approach of Tom Segalla to his practice, volunteerism, and leadership in the practice of law.  In addition to receiving the award, Lorie, as well as Larry and Mike, presented during the conference.

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Congratulations to Jae Lynn Huckaba, an associate in Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP’s Miami office and a member of the Firm’s insurance coverage team, for being named to the Miami Dade Bar Young Lawyers Section (YLS) board of directors.

The Miami Dade Bar YLS is comprised of attorneys aged 36 and under, competitively selected from among a large group of nominees.  As a member of the YLS board of directors, Jae Lynn will help organize member and networking events, as well as judicial receptions and CLE programs. 

Congrats, Jae Lynn!

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In 2008, Illinois enacted the Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA) to protect individuals’ privacy rights in their biometric information, including retina or iris scans, fingerprint, voiceprint, hand scans, facial geometry, DNA and other unique, identifying biological information. Companies are now paying hundreds of millions of dollars to settle employee and consumer suits for BIPA violations. In a recent Reuters Legal News article, Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP attorneys Syed Ahmad, Rachel Hudgins and Torsten Kracht, discuss what BIPA is, how it applies to companies ...

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Congratulations to Alice Weeks, an associate on Hunton Andrews Kurth’s insurance coverage team, for being selected to the Miami Dade Bar’s Circle of Excellence for Insurance Litigation.   

The Circle of Excellence award is awarded to peer-selected attorneys in their area of practice. Alice was selected from among many highly qualified nominees and was recognized at the Miami Dade Bar’s Judicial Reception. Alice is a past board member of the Miami Dade Bar YLS, as well as past-editor of the Miami Dade Bar’s newsletter, the Bulletin. Alice’s Circle of Excellence selection ...

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The RISKWORLD 2023 Annual Conference in Atlanta is just around the corner! Visit members of the Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP Insurance Coverage team at Booth 2040 to learn more about how our insurance recovery team helps clients obtain insurance recoveries and advise on the negotiation and procurement of policies and the presentation of claims.

In addition, partners Andrea DeField and Michael Levine, special counsel Lara Cassidy and counsel Kevin Small will be presenting on current and emerging insurance topics during the conference. Please see below for information about each session.

We hope to see you in Atlanta!

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Congratulations to Adriana Perez on her selection to the National Association of Women Lawyers’ (NAWL) 2023 Rising List. Adriana is a member of Hunton Andrews Kurth’s national Insurance Recovery practice and is based in the Firm’s Miami, Florida office.

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On Monday, March 6, the US Supreme Court agreed to hear an insurance coverage dispute, Great Lakes Insurance SE v. Raiders Retreat Realty Co., LLC.  Insurance cases are few and far between in the high court, so both policyholders and their insurers will be watching the Great Lakes case with great interest.  Notably, while the case involves the specialized area of maritime law, how the Supreme Court chooses to address the choice-of-law issue it presents could have much broader implications.

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Effective February 28, 2023, Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP has promoted insurance recovery lawyer Kevin V. Small, along with three other attorneys, to Counsel.  “Kevin quickly established himself as an integral part of our practice, particularly in the area of transactional liability insurance,” said practice head Syed Ahmad.  Ahmad added, “Kevin recently led the drafting of a Lexis Practice Note on Representations and Warranties Insurance that will be published in the coming weeks and provides rare insights on common issues arising in the claims context.” “Kevin makes ...

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Hunton insurance recovery group partner Larry Bracken and associate Rachel Hudgins were each recognized in Georgia Super Lawyers 2023’s most recent publication. Larry Bracken was recognized as a Super Lawyer, and Rachel Hudgins was selected as a Rising Star for Insurance Coverage.

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On February 6, 2023, The Claims Journal highlighted a letter by members of Hunton’s insurance team, submitted on behalf of United Policyholders, to the California Supreme Court, which alerts the Court to the fundamental infirmities in the “standard” expounded by the insurance industry in COVID-19 business interruption litigations nationwide. The letter was issued to assist the Court in addressing a question certified from the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in Another Planet Entertainment, LLC v. Vigilant Insurance Co, asking whether the actual or potential presence of the COVID-19 virus on an insured’s premises “constitute direct physical loss or damage to property” for purposes of coverage under a commercial property insurance policy.

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The Insurance Coverage Law Center has published an article in which Hunton insurance recovery partner, Michael Levine, exposes evidence of insurance company sins unearthed in the COVID-19 business interruption insurance litigation battleground.  The article discusses evidence obtained from four of the largest property and business income insurers, which tends to prove that long before COVID-19, each understood virus and communicable disease to pose a risk of physical loss or damage sufficient to trigger coverage under their respective all-risk insurance products.  A copy of ...

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On November 3, 2022, US News announced its annual law firm rankings, where Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP garnered the highest (Tier 1) ranking among national insurance law practices. Hunton’s insurance team also received Tier 1 honors for “Insurance Law” in three regions (Washington, DC, Atlanta and San Francisco) and Tier 2 honors for “Litigation – Insurance" in Washington, DC. US News ranks law firms in tiers from 1 (highest) to 3 (lowest) based on quantitative data that speaks to general demographic and background information on the practice group, attorneys and other ...

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Partners, Larry Bracken, Lorie Masters, and Koorosh Talieh (KT), were each recognized as Super Lawyers, while associates Yaniel Abreu and Rachel Hudgins were selected as Rising Stars for Insurance Coverage in 2022. Super Lawyers, part of Thomson Reuters, is a rating service of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. The patented selection process includes independent research, peer nominations and peer evaluations. Ultimately, no more than 5% of lawyers in a state are selected as ...

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Partner, Andrea DeField, and counsel, Latosha Ellis, were each recently awarded “On the Rise – Top 40 Young Lawyers” honors by the American Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Division. The award honors 40 of the nation’s most promising lawyers under the age of 40 or who have been licensed for 10 years or less. Recipients demonstrate high achievement, innovation, vision, leadership, and service to the profession and their communities, including extensive knowledge in litigation or transactional work and commitment to pro bono, charitable, or professional ...

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Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP’s insurance practice has received U.S. News & World Report’s highest national ranking (Tier 1) in its ranking of Best Law Firms for Insurance Law.  Law firms are ranked in tiers from 1 (highest) to 3 (lowest) based on quantitative data that speaks to general demographic and background information on the practice group, attorneys, and other data that speaks to the strengths of a law firm’s practice as well as qualitative client feedback about:

  • the practice group’s expertise,
  • responsiveness,
  • understanding of a business and its needs,
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Boston-based partner Geoffrey Fehling has been recognized for his extensive experience and insights into emerging issues affecting directors and officers liability and other specialty lines insurance coverage by being selected to Law360’s 2022 Editorial Advisory Board for Insurance Authority Specialty Lines. As a member of the board, he will provide counsel to the legal newswire on insurance coverage issues facing companies and their officers and directors to help shape Law360’s future coverage.

To read more about Law360’s Insurance Authority Specialty Lines ...

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Effective April 1, 2022, Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP has promoted insurance recovery lawyer Geoff Fehling, and 13 other attorneys, to partner. “Geoff hit the ground running from day one and quickly established himself as a valuable member of our practice and firm,” said outgoing insurance recovery practice head Walter Andrews. Andrews added, “Geoff’s promotion is well-deserved and a direct result of his hard work, client victories, and dedication to the firm.” “Geoff has become a go-to authority for clients and colleagues alike, especially in the area of directors and ...
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An amended version of the Comprehensive Insurance Disclosure Act recently went into effect in New York State. This law applies to all civil lawsuits filed in New York State Court on or after December 31, 2021. The first disclosures required by the law will be due soon and it is important for defendants to be aware of their new obligations.

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Congratulations to Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP insurance recovery lawyer, Jorge Aviles, on his confirmation by the DC Bar Foundation’s Board of Directors to the organization’s Young Lawyers Network Leadership Council.

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We are pleased to announce that Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP insurance coverage partner Lorelie S. Masters is one of only eight attorneys throughout the nation shortlisted for the Best in Insurance & Reinsurance category for the Women in Business Law Awards 2021. The award honors “the outstanding achievements of women in over thirty different practice areas in business law from across Americas. These are individuals who stand out as leaders amongst their peers and who have been instrumental to innovative approaches in their field.”

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We are proud to share that Hunton Andrews Kurth insurance coverage Partner Andrea (Andi) DeField and Counsel Cary D. Steklof were recently recognized as 2021 Legal Elite Up & Comers in Florida Trend magazine. Florida Trend invited all in-state members of the Florida Bar to name attorneys whom they highly regard or would recommend to others. Only the top 111 attorneys were recognized for their leadership in the legal field and in the community. Andi and Cary are both well deserving of this honor and the award reflects their dedication to providing excellent legal services.

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The 2021 Chambers and Partners rankings for Georgia insurance recovery practices and lawyers are out and Hunton Andrews Kurth has received top honors.  The rankings include Hunton Andrews Kurth’s Insurance Recovery practice and partners Lawrence J. Bracken II and Michael S. Levine, with all receiving Band 1 honors – the organization’s top-tier ranking.  “The top-level ranking of our practice in Georgia, and the work that Larry and Mike bring to our clients in Georgia, specifically, is emblematic of the work our team is doing nationwide,” said Insurance Recovery Practice Head, Walter J. Andrews.  “The Firm and I could not be more proud,” he added.

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We are proud to share that Business Insurance has named Hunton Andrews Kurth insurance coverage associate, Latosha M. Ellis, one of the magazine’s 2021 Break Out Award winners. Business Insurance’s Break Out Awards honor 40 top professionals from around the country each year who are expected to be the next leaders in risk management and the property/casualty insurance field. Business Insurance reviewed hundreds of nominees, all of whom have worked in commercial insurance or related sectors for under 15 years. Out of those hundreds, Latosha was selected as one of the 40 honorees for 2021.

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Effective April 1, 2021, Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP has promoted insurance recovery lawyer, Andi DeField, and six other attorneys, to partner.  “Andi has been a superstar in our practice since the day she arrived,” said insurance recovery practice head, Walter Andrews, adding that “Andi’s promotion reflects the incredible hard work she has contributed to the practice and outstanding results she has achieved for our clients over the years.”  A native of Miami, Andi ascended through the ranks at Hunton in its Miami office, joining the firm as a contract lawyer before earning ...
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New Jersey’s highest court heard arguments Monday in the appeal of a ruling that the New Jersey Transit Corp.’s (“NJ Transit”) insurers are required to insure $400 million of water damage loss caused by Hurricane Sandy.

The matter stems from an insurance claim NJ Transit made after the super storm rocked the East Coast in 2012. NJ Transit claimed over $400 million in losses as a result of damage to its tracks, bridges, tunnels and power stations. In response, its tower of property insurers took the position that a $100 million flood sublimit applied to limit NJ Transit’s recovery under its insurance tower, not the policy’s $400 million overall limits.

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The Hunton Andrews Kurth Insurance Coverage Practice Group has been awarded Tier 1 ranking by US News Media Group and Best Lawyers, placing them among the top practitioners nationally for policyholder insurance coverage representation. In addition to its Tier 1 ranking nationally, the Firm also received a regional Tier 1 ranking in Washington, DC and a Tier 2 ranking in Atlanta, GA.

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On September 29, 2020, The National Law Review published an article by Scott DeVries, Lorie Masters, and Michael Huggins concerning setting the correct prism for construing policy language, which can be outcome-determinative in COVID-19 business interruption cases.  A key takeaway from the article is that a court’s adherence to traditional principles of insurance policy interpretation may result in more cases finding in favor of business interruption coverage for COVID-19 related claims.  For example, relevant principles of interpretation include, among others, that ...

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The Hunton Andrews Kurth Insurance Coverage Practice Group is pleased to announce that insurance coverage associate Latosha M. Ellis has been honored by Virginia Lawyers Media, the publisher of Virginia Lawyers Weekly, in its 2020 class of “Up & Coming Lawyers.”

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Walmart announced this week that it is testing a pilot program in North Carolina for the delivery of groceries and household items using automated drones, joining other retailers looking to beef up their drone delivery business.  In a related development, last week the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) designated Amazon Prime Air as an “air carrier,” a key step in the process of Amazon’s quest to expand into the delivery-by-drone arena.  Amazon joins Wing, the Alphabet Inc. subsidiary, and UPS as companies that have obtained FAA approval to operate unmanned aircraft systems (i.e., drones) under the federal regulations.  Given the rapid rise of commercial drone use, businesses have understandably grown concerned that their drone technologies will expose them to a new set of risks, including damage to the drone itself, as well as third-party claims following property or physical injury caused by a company-operated or company-owned drone (and other third-party claims like invasion of privacy).  In light of these risks, it is key that businesses using drones obtain the insurance coverage necessary to protect themselves against such risks, and that they explore all coverage options should a drone-related loss arise in order to maximize their chances of insurance recovery.

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As has been widely reported, insurance companies have been inundated with claims arising from the novel coronavirus and are locked into contentious coverage battles regarding the scope of coverage afforded for such claims under various policy forms. Courts have begun issuing decisions both for and against policyholders attempting recovery for COVID-19-related losses, and the legal battles resolving those questions will likely take months or even years to play out.

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Trading on New Zealand’s stock exchange was disrupted last week, following four straight days of repeated cyberattacks that resulted in outages affecting debt, equities, and derivatives markets.  The DDoS attack, which is said to have originated offshore, is allegedly part of a global extortion scheme that has also targeted companies like PayPal and Venmo.  With this type of cyberattack becoming only more common and sophisticated, it is vital for policyholders to focus on the host of available insurance coverage options to protect against and maximize their insurance recovery following losses from a cyberattack.

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As Texas and Louisiana brace for Hurricane Laura to make landfall, policyholders in the affected regions should be making last minute preparations to ensure their properties are covered in the storm’s wake.

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On August 25, 2020, an article by Syed Ahmad and Michael Huggins was run in Mealey’s Insurance concerning the use of direct and circumstantial evidence to show the presence of COVID-19 for purposes of seeking business interruption coverage.  A key takeaway from the article is that direct evidence of COVID-19 at a premises, such as through positive test results, may not be necessary to establish the presence of COVID-19.  Instead, insurers and courts should consider circumstantial evidence, with equal weight as may be given direct evidence, such as witness testimony that employees ...
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Hunton special counsel Scott DeVries was quoted August 14 in a Bloomberg Law article titled “More Virus Insurance Suits Could Follow as Consolidation Fails.” The article discussed a federal panel’s refusal to centralize hundreds of businesses’ lawsuits against their insurers over pandemic-related coverage. Elaborating on the ruling, DeVries observed that “Insurance contracts are a matter of state law interpretation, so I would be surprised if there weren’t different rulings in different jurisdictions. You could see how some policyholders might have held off on ...
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Over the past couple of months, we have written on decisions by various European insurers to pay policyholders for their COVID-19 related losses. That positive trend is now moving across continents.

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Hunton insurance recovery partner, Mike Levine, recently sat down with Thompson Reuters to discuss his experiences with COVID-19 business interruption claims and litigation.  In the interview, Mike discusses his recently filed lawsuit against AIG Specialty Insurance Company, which he brought on behalf of Circus Circus Casino in Las Vegas.  This is the second major casino lawsuit Mike and the firm have filed; the first being against Affiliated FM Insurance Company on behalf of Treasure Island Casino.  Mike also shares his views on the insurance industry’s apparent concerted ...
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Last month we wrote a piece concerning AXA’s agreement to pay COVID-19 related business interruption claims by a group of restaurants in France after a court ruled that the restaurants’ revenue losses resulting from COVID-19 and related government orders were covered under its insurance policies. AXA reportedly has already agreed to pay over 200 COVID-19 related claims.

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On May 26, 2020, a California Court of Appeals (4th District) issued its decision in Mosley et al. v. Pacific Specialty Ins. Co.  The case arose in the context of a marijuana-growing tenant who rerouted a home’s electrical system and caused an electrical fire.  The issue was whether the homeowner’s policy covered the loss.  The trial court granted the insurer’s motion for summary judgment and, in a divided decision, the Court of Appeals reversed in part.

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Geoffrey Fehling, an associate in Hunton Andrew Kurth’s Insurance Coverage practice, has been appointed to serve as Vice Chair of the Insurance Subcommittee of the American Bar Association’s Business Law Section Director and Officer Liability Committee. The Committee on Director and Officer Liability is part of the ABA Business Law Section’s global network of almost 40,000 business law professionals interested in expanding their knowledge, engaging with their professional communities, and advancing their experience through Section committees, programs, and meetings.

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AXA, one of the biggest insurance companies in the world, has agreed to pay COVID-related business interruption claims by a group of restaurants in Paris after a court ruled that the restaurants’ revenue losses resulting from COVID-19 and related government orders were covered under AXA’s policies.

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Evolving government orders will affect the way many retail businesses operate and the potential insurance available for losses and expenses. For instance, on April 28, 2020, the State Health Officer of Alabama issued an Order allowing some businesses to reopen, but under strict sanitation and social distancing guidelines. Retail stores, for example, will be allowed to reopen but must maintain a maximum occupancy rate of 50%. While a partial opening may restore some level of activity, because these businesses must operate at a reduced capacity, their operations will not return to normal. Beyond that, while some states are loosening social distancing requirements, others have extended them. Indeed, on the same day that Alabama announced its partial reopening, the Governor of Massachusetts extended the closures of non-essential businesses. Regardless of location, many businesses will likely sustain substantial losses because of these orders, and will incur expenses to comply with evolving requirements and operational guidelines.

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Much ink has been spilled about legislators' efforts to protect businesses by ensuring business interruption coverage for losses involving COVID-19. Many have questioned the constitutionality of any such laws. But, as explained in this Law360 article by Hunton attorneys Syed Ahmad and Patrick McDermott, those questions overlook two provisions commonly found in property insurance policies. In short, the provisions recognize the possibility that the insurance contract may conflict with statutes and regulations and incorporate any such conflicting law into the policy ...
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Masters and Levine submitted the following “letter to the editor” in the April 7th, 2020 edition of the Washington Post to tell the other side of the story.

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Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP is proud to announce that associate Latosha Ellis is running for Secretary of the Women’s Bar Association of DC! We strongly support Latosha’s campaign and encourage you to vote for your favorite candidate via the email ballot circulated to all current members in good standing. If you did not receive a ballot or need to check your membership status, contact admin@wbadc.org. Polls close on April 10th so cast your votes today!

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The wave of COVID-19 litigation should cause courts to consider whether the plain meaning of a general liability insuring agreement triggers coverage for certain damages flowing from COVID-19 losses. Policies with insuring agreements providing coverage “because of” bodily injury or property damage are broader than those that apply coverage “for” bodily injury or property damage. Hunton Andrews Kurth insurance attorneys Syed S. Ahmad and Rachel E. Hudgins authored an article published by the Insurance Coverage Law Center analyzing this difference. The full article is available here.

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In what may be entirely unprecedented, the New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS), the insurance regulatory body for insurers operating in New York, has ordered that all property and casualty insurers authorized to issue policies in New York to provide details on the business interruption coverage provided in the types of policies for which it has ongoing exposure for COVID-19 related losses.  A copy of the NYDFS March 10, 2020 Order (Order) can be found here.

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As previously reported on the Hunton Employment & Labor Perspectives Blog, workers’ compensation provides the exclusive remedy for injuries and illness that employees suffer arising out of and within the course of their employment.   Workers’ compensation provides the exclusive remedy for injuries and illness that employees suffer arising out of and within the course of their employment.  In the early stages of this pandemic, work-related travel to high impact countries or work-related exposure in a case that was being tracked by public health authorities provided support for work-related exposure.  In healthcare settings, work-related exposure will likely be established when exposure to infected patients occurs.  But in other settings and as the diseases spreads in the United States, the analysis about whether an illness is covered by workers’ compensation will be more difficult.

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On February 13, 2020, a Texas federal court granted summary judgment in favor of coverage, finding the policyholder provided sufficient notice to its insurer of a potential claim for damages caused by allegedly contaminated proppant used at a well site in west Texas.  See Evanston Insurance Company v. OPF Enterprises, LLC, Civil Action No. 4:17-CV-2048 (S.D.T.X. Feb. 13, 2020) (Dkt. No. 51) .  The Court found that the policyholder’s notice of a potential claim was effective when provided to the insurer’s agent, even though it was not provided directly to the insurer itself.

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Claims stemming from the manufacture, sale, distribution and prescription of opioid products continue to proliferate, fueling opioid liability as an historic mass tort.  Claims asserted in lawsuits brought by state and local governments include allegations of negligence, fraudulent misrepresentation, violation of consumer protection statutes, public nuisance, unjust enrichment, antitrust violations, and claims for medical monitoring and injunctive relief, among others.  In December 2017, the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation ordered the consolidation of approximately 200 then pending opioid related cases into a multidistrict litigation before the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, styled In Re: National Prescription Opiate Litigation (MDL No. 2804) (the “MDL”). It was recently reported that two pharmacy chains involved in the opioid MDL are suing 500 physicians alleging it is the doctors, not the pharmacists, who are to blame for faulty prescriptions.  At the end of last week, the judge handling the MDL allowed claims against opioid companies by union benefit plans to proceed, concluding that the plans’ claims of harm differed from the injuries to health and safety suffered by the public at large.

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Earlier last week, Hunton insurance partner Michael Levine spoke with Business Insurance about the mounting concerns over insuring Coronavirus-related business income and supply chain losses.  As of today, almost 80,000 cases have been reported world-wide and more than 2,250 are confirmed to have died as a result of the disease.  Companies across the globe have been impacted, with loss of materials, markets and distribution representing a common thread among reported losses and disruptions.  But these “supply chain” losses may be compensable through insurance.  Policyholders will be forced to evaluate complex policy provisions and endorsements to ascertain whether their insurance program should respond.  In particular, policyholders must determine whether their policy wording requires some element of physical loss or damage to property to trigger business interruption or contingent business interruption coverage.  Even where such a requirement exists, however, some policies are written so that loss of use of property is sufficient to implicate coverage.  Likewise, questions exist concerning contamination to property, and whether that too may constitute physical loss, damage or loss of use.  For these reasons, among others, Levine explained to Business Insurance that “contingent business interruption . . . is going to be one of the battlegrounds, if not the main battleground, particularly in the supply chain area.” Levine further noted that claims could be complicated by the physical damage requirement.

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Few areas of New York law as complex and nuanced as the law regarding an insurer’s duties to defend and indemnify.  To help practitioners efficiently navigate this area of the law, Hunton Andrews Kurth insurance attorneys Michael S. Levine and Kevin V. Small authored a Q&A guide published by Practical Law.  The full article is available here.  In the Q&A guide, the authors identify questions practitioners are likely to encounter regarding an insurer’s duties to defend and indemnity and provide succinct answers and citations under New York law ...
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Last week, in an exciting moment, the U.S. House of Representatives, voted 321 to 103 in favor of H.R.1595, the Secure and Fair Enforcement Banking Act of 2019 (“SAFE Banking Act”). If enacted into law, the SAFE Banking Act, would provide financial institutions, including insurers, a safe harbor to do business with “cannabis-related legitimate businesses” in the United States. In particular, the act would protect insurers, independent agents, and brokers from criminal and civil liability when offering insurance coverage to state-legalized cannabis businesses. The SAFE Banking Act would grant the cannabis business community access to many of the financial services most companies take for granted, like electronic payment processing, employer-sponsored 401(k) accounts and small business loans.

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Latosha M. Ellis, an associate in Hunton Andrews Kurth’s Insurance Coverage Practice, was recently named to The National Black Lawyers Top 40 Under 40 class of 2019.

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Syed Ahmad, a partner in Hunton Andrews Kurth’s Insurance Coverage practice, has volunteered to serve as Chair of the ABA Minority Trial Lawyer Committee’s Programming Subcommittee. The Minority Trial Lawyer Committee (MTL) serves as a resource for minority litigators, in-house counsel and law students, aiming to foster professional development, legal scholarship, advocacy and community involvement. As Chair of the Programming Subcommittee, Syed, who was named to Benchmark Litigation’s 40 & Under Hot List earlier this year, will help advance MTL’s mission of ...
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The Fall 2019 Edition of The ALI Reporter recognizes Hunton partner Lorelie S. Masters for her significant contributions to the new Restatement of the Law, Liability Insurance (RLLI). The RLLI was approved by the American Law Institute (ALI) at its 2018 Annual Meeting and published in late September 2019. In 2010, Lorie was one of 40 attorneys invited to serve as an Adviser to the Restatement, and she was heavily involved throughout the life of the eight-year project.

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Congratulations to Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP insurance recovery lawyer, Geoffrey Fehling, on his confirmation by the DC Bar Foundation’s Board of Directors to the organization’s Young Lawyers Network Leadership Council.

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In an article appearing in Law360 on August 8, 2019, Hunton insurance partner, Syed Ahmad, provided insight into three recent significant D&O insurance decisions.

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Benchmark Litigation has named Syed Ahmad, a partner in Hunton Andrews Kurth’s Insurance Coverage practice, to the publication’s 40 & Under Hot List. Benchmark Litigation is the definitive guide to America’s leading litigation firms and attorneys. The 40 & Under Hot List honors the most notable up-and-coming litigation attorneys in the United States. Those named to the list have proven their eligibility as individuals at the partner level of their respective firms who are 40 years of age or younger.

Read more on the firm’s announcement about Syed’s selection here.

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Hunton Andrews Kurth’s insurance coverage practice is proud to congratulate Cary D. Steklof for being selected by his peers to Florida Trend’s Legal Elite Up & Comers list for 2019.  A total of 131 attorneys under the age of 40 throughout the state of Florida were recognized for their leadership in the law and their communities.  Cary was one of only seven attorneys selected for their skill and counsel in the area of insurance.  We congratulate Cary and all of the recipients of this award who have distinguished themselves for their superior advocacy, knowledge, and accomplishments as ...
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In a June 18, 2019 article published in Law360, Hunton insurance team partner Syed Ahmad analyzed some of the most important insurance cases from 2019 so far.

Mr. Ahmad first touched on a pair of rulings from the Montana Supreme Court. In each, that court refused to find coverage for consent judgments negotiated by policyholders. The court in Abbey/Land v. Glacier Construction Partners rejected an underlying consent judgment because it was unreasonable and flowed from collusion between the underlying parties. Then, in Draggin’ Y Cattle Co. v. JCCS, the court reversed a trial court’s holding that an underlying consent judgment was presumptively reasonable, holding that the judgment did not deserve a “presumption of reasonableness,” because the insurer had not breached its duty to defend.

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Hunton Andrews Kurth insurance recovery partner, Lorie Masters, received a top “Band 1” ranking by Chambers and Partners in the Insurance: Policyholder category for the District of Columbia, and a “Band 2” ranking in the Insurance: Dispute Resolution: Policyholder – USA – Nationwide category.

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Hunton Andrews Kurth has selected Latosha Ellis, an associate in the firm’s Insurance Coverage practice, for the 2019 Leadership Council on Legal Diversity (LCLD) Pathfinder Program. Pathfinder is a national yearlong program that trains diverse, high performing, early-career attorneys in critical career development strategies, including foundational leadership and building professional networks.

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In an article appearing in Electric Light & Power, Hunton insurance recovery lawyers, Lawrence Bracken, Sergio Oehninger and Alexander Russo discuss the insurability of losses resulting from the recent wildfires in California.  Many affected by the tragedy have tried to shift responsibility to utility and power companies, which also may face subrogation claims from insurers that paid property and business owners for first-party losses.  In addition, liability insurance programs may help defray costs imposed upon those believed to be at fault, including costs resulting from ...
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Lawrence J. Bracken II, a partner in Hunton Andrews Kurth’s Insurance Coverage practice group, has been elected to the American College of Coverage Counsel (ACCC), which is the preeminent association of U.S. and Canadian lawyers who represent the interests of insurers and policyholders. The ACCC’s mission is to advance the creative, ethical and efficient resolution of insurance coverage and extracontractual disputes; to enhance the civility and quality of the practice of insurance law; to provide peer-reviewed scholarship; and to improve the relationships among the members of our profession.  The ACCC engages in a rigorous vetting process prior to inviting a lawyer to become a fellow.  ACCC fellows include many of the most prominent members of the insurance law bar.

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The doctrine of functus officio typically sets an arbiter’s award in stone: It forbids an arbiter from altering its award after the award has been rendered. But the doctrine has several exceptions. One such exception, known as the clarification exception, allows an arbitration panel to clarify an ambiguous final award. In Gen Re Life Corporation v. Lincoln National Life Insurance, the Second Circuit joined several other circuits in expressly adopting this exception, allowing an arbitration panel to clarify the meaning of its prior interpretation of rescission-clause in a ...

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As the new year gets under way, cases that will shape the insurance landscape in 2019 continue to proceed.  Among them are First Acceptance Ins. Co. v. Hughes, in which the Georgia Supreme Court will address the prerequisites for a policyholder to sue its insurance carrier for bad faith based on the insurer’s failure to settle the underlying dispute for an amount within the available policy limits.  Hunton Andrews Kurth’s insurance practice head, Walter Andrews, was asked by Insurance Law360 to comment on the significance of that case.  As Andrews explained, the insurer’s position is inconsistent with Georgia law.  "Georgia law does not require some particular form of settlement offer — or even an offer at all — to create an insurer's duty to settle claims against their insureds." Rather, as Andrews explained, “that duty arises when the insurer knows or reasonably should know that not settling will create an 'unreasonable risk' of the insured suffering a judgment in excess of his or her policy limits, regardless of whether a third-party claimant has first presented a settlement offer. Most often, that should be a jury question and not something that is susceptible to summary judgment."

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In a recent Client Alert, Hunton insurance lawyers Mike Levine, Sergio Oehninger and Josh Paster discuss the impact of the Second Circuit’s recent opinion in Patriarch Partners, LLC v. Axis Insurance Co., where the Court confirmed that a warranty letter accompanying the policyholder’s insurance application barred coverage for a lengthy SEC investigation. The decision underscores the importance of understanding how a policy’s language and definitions impact the scope of information that policyholders must consider when representing facts and circumstances in ...

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Hunton Insurance Coverage attorneys Syed Ahmad and Geoff Fehling contributed to the firm’s Recall Roundup, a monthly publication canvassing consumer product and retail recalls and related litigation.  In the October issue, Ahmad and Fehling discuss two recent decisions with potentially broad implications.  In Lake Country Foods, Inc. v. Houston Casualty Co., No. 18-CV-734 (E.D. Wis. filed May 11, 2018), nutritional supplement manufacturer Lake Country Foods, Inc., (“LCF”) filed an insurance coverage complaint seeking to enforce its rights under a product contamination policy issued by Houston Casualty Company (“HCC”) arising from a salmonella contamination incident.  In the October Recall Roundup, Ahmad and Fehling discuss the potential impact that the insurer’s counterclaims seeking reimbursement of the approximately $1.2 million advance payment it made in response to the alleged salmonella contamination incident might have on the pending insurance recovery dispute.

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The head of Hunton Andrews Kurth’s insurance practice, Walter Andrews, was interviewed earlier this week by ABC 7 (WJLA) concerning the need for cyber insurance and the benefits that it can provide to government contractors and other businesses that are impacted by a cyber event.  Andrews explains the diverse spectrum of benefits that are available through cyber insurance products, but cautions that a serious lack of uniformity exists among today’s cyber insurance products, making it crucial that policyholders carefully analyze their cyber insurance to ensure it provides the scope and amount of insurance they desire.

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Hunton insurance attorneys Syed Ahmad and Patrick McDermott recently wrote a chapter on insurance law in the District of Columbia to the newest edition of the District of Columbia Practice Manual. The chapter of the Practice Manual, in its 26th edition, is available here and now covers topics including the duties to defend and indemnify, insurers’ defenses to coverage, allocation issues, bad faith, policy interpretation principles, and coverage for cyber events.
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An Alabama state court recently ruled that Protective Life Insurance wrongly denied California-based Apex Parks Group’s claim for unpaid key person death benefits. Apex, an amusement park company, insured its founder and CEO Alexander “Al” Weber Jr., who died unexpectedly in November 2016 while on vacation.  Eight months earlier, Apex purchased “key person” insurance coverage from Protective.  According to the complaint, Protective’s medical examiner had received Mr. Weber’s medical history prior to issuing the policy.

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Hunton Andrews Kurth insurance recovery associate, Andrea (Andi) DeField, was recently named among the 40 outstanding lawyers under the age of 40 in South Florida.  Andi has wasted no time using her status to help raise awareness and money for cystic fibrosis research.

On September 27, Andi attended the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation 40 Under 40 kickoff, an event held annually for the past 10 years to honor the best and brightest lawyers in the South Florida community while raising much-needed funds to support the Foundation’s mission.  The awards gala will be held on November 10 ...

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As reported yesterday in Business Insurance, Lloyd’s of London underwriters have agreed to insure digital currency storage company, Kingdom Trust Co., against theft and destruction of cryptocurrency assets.  The cover comes after almost a decade-long search by Kingdom Trust for insurance to cover its crypto-assets.  According to the BI, Kingdom Trust sees the availability of insurance as a key factor in bringing institutional investors into the marketplace by dispelling concerns about lack of traditional safeguards in the emerging crypto-asset space.

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Hunton insurance recovery partner Syed Ahmad was recently asked by Insurance Law360 to opine concerning key insurance issues that are pending before the Wisconsin Supreme Court and ripe for decision this fall.  In the article, which can be found here, Ahmad notes with respect to the case of Secura Insurance v. Ray Duerr Logging LLC, case number 2016AP299, concerning whether damage tied to a wildfire constitutes one or multiple occurrences for coverage purposes, the Court of Appeals did a good job of focusing on the particulars of the claim at hand and not superficially relying on abstract labels like “cause test” or “effects test,” that are not all that illuminating, explaining that what one party characterizes as the “cause” of a loss can often be what another party deems to be “effect” resulting in the loss.

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In a recent article appearing in Florida’s Daily Business Review (available here), Hunton Insurance Recovery Practice team head, Walter Andrews, explains why phishing and whaling scams should be covered by insurance.  In the article, Andrews notes that recent appellate decisions support policyholders’ reasonable expectations of coverage and reject insurers’ contentions that social engineering losses do not result directly from the use of computers.  Andrews goes on to explain that should a company find itself a victim of a phishing or whaling attack, it should carefully ...
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The California Department of Insurance recently approved three new insurance carriers to provide coverage for the emerging cannabis industry. Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones announced last week that The North River Insurance Company, United States Fire Insurance Company, and White Pine Insurance Company will all begin offering surety bonds for cannabis businesses by the end of the month.

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In a recent post, we discussed the Sixth Circuit’s holding in American Tooling Center, Inc. v. Travelers Casualty and Surety Co. of America, No. 17-2014, 2018 WL 3404708 (6th Cir. July 13, 2018), where the Sixth Circuit reversed the district court’s summary judgment for the insurer, finding coverage under its policy for a fraudulent scheme that resulted in a $834,000.00 loss. The insurer, Travelers, has now asked the Court to reconsider its decision.

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In a July 9, 2018 article appearing in Insurance Law360, Hunton Andrews Kurth insurance recovery practice head, Walter J. Andrews, explains why the Second Circuit’s decision in Medidata Solutions Inc. v. Federal Insurance Co., No. 17-2492 (2nd Cir. July 6, 2018), affirming coverage for a $4.8 million loss caused by a “phishing” e-mail attack, is a common sense application of the plain language of Medidata’s computer fraud coverage provision.  As Andrews explained, “[c]learly, hijacking — or spoofing — email addresses constitutes an attack on a company's computer system for which a reasonable policyholder should expect coverage. A computer is a computer is a computer. Everyone knows that — except for insurance companies.”

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