May 2, 2018

Clyde & Co in the courts and in the news

Summarized below are selected cases and wins for Clyde & Co clients so far in 2018 which were covered by the media.

Excess insurers win long-running, complex litigation

Case: John Crane Inc. v. Admiral Insurance Co. et al.
Jurisdiction: Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois
Legal Significance: This case seeking insurance coverage for asbestos liabilities has been ongoing for 13 years, produced three trials and two published appellate decisions. The Dec. 28, 2017, trial court decision was the first instance in Illinois on whether the policyholder’s primary policies were horizontally exhausted using three legal doctrines established earlier, which could have allowed it to tap more than $150 million of excess coverage. The trial court ruled against the policyholder, which has since filed an appeal.
Clyde & Co lawyers: Clinton E. Cameron and James J. Sanders

Debtor denied protective order in insurers’ asbestos claim probe

Case: Rapid-American Corp. v. Travelers Casualty and Surety Co.
Jurisdiction: US Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York
Legal Significance: The court ruled Feb. 12, 2018, that Chapter 11 debtor Rapid-American lacked standing to challenge subpoenas issued by insurers seeking information on more than 450,000 claimants asserting asbestos-related claims against Rapid-American.
Clyde & Co lawyers: Daren S. McNally, Barbara M. Almeida and Shane T. Calendar

Court denies motion to dismiss, stay or transfer excess insurer's reimbursement action

Case: AXIS Reinsurance Co. v. Northrop Grumman Corp.
Jurisdiction: US District Court for the Central District of California
Legal Significance: In a rare decision involving partial reimbursement of a payout by an excess liability insurer, the court ruled March 28, 2018, that the insurer’s suit for reimbursement of amounts paid in settlement can proceed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.  Northrop Grumman moved to dismiss, stay, or transfer the action to the District of Delaware because it is incorporated there.  The insured contended that because Northrop Grumman is incorporated in Delaware, the case should properly be venued in Delaware.  The District Court ruled that a number of factors outweighed Northrop Grumman's incorporation in Delaware, including that Northrop's principal place of business was in California when the insurance contract was issued. The underlying action settled was venued in California, and there was no convenience to the parties in litigating in Delaware.
Clyde & Co lawyers: Kim W. West and Alec H. Boyd

Lloyd’s underwriters recover attorney fees incurred in defense of U.S. coverage dispute

Case: 11333 Inc. v. Certain Underwriters at Lloyd’s
Jurisdiction: US District Court for the District of Arizona
Legal Significance: On March 30, 2018, the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona granted a motion by Certain Underwriters at Lloyd’s to recover all of the attorney fees Underwriters incurred in the defense of an insurance coverage action, totaling approximately $1.2 million. In June 2017, the court granted summary judgment in favor of Underwriters that no coverage was afforded under its policy of insurance. Under Arizona law, the court has discretion to award reasonable attorney fees to the prevailing party in a contract dispute. In its decision, the Arizona court held: "The motion for summary judgment and the motion challenging expert Kochenberger were critically important and were done with utmost skill, thoroughness, and clarity"; "It is not so in all cases, but in this case it was much easier for the Plaintiff to make assertions than for the Defendant to run every one down as lacking evidence and/or legal basis. But they did;" “11333 forced Underwriters to clean Augean stables, and they did so with Herculean effort;” and “Judging by their performance observable by the Court, Underwriters’ counsel performed at the highest level of quality and accuracy.”
Clyde & Co lawyers: Kim W. West and Alec H. Boyd

Clyde team wins affirmation in Florida wrongful death case

Case: Cruz v. Nebraska Food Market Inc. et al.
Jurisdiction: Florida 2nd District Court of Appeal
Legal Significance: Florida courts historically have been plaintiff-friendly in civil liability actions, but the appellate court issued a per curiam affirmance of the trial court’s decision favoring an insurance company client’s insured in a wrongful death case alleging negligent security. Read more about the case here
Clyde & Co lawyers: Barry L. Davis, Carly M. Celmer and Stephanie G. Kolman