General contractor, an additional insured under a liability policy issued to a subcontractor, sued the subcontractor’s insurer for declaratory relief after the insurer refused to defend the general contractor against construction defect claims. The subcontractor had financed the policy premium through a lender and assigned its right to cancel the policy to the lender in the event of its failure to pay the premium. Thereafter, without notice to the general contractor, and on instructions from the lender, the insurer cancelled the policy for nonpayment of the premium. Primary issue included whether, for the cancellation of the policy to be valid under Ins. Code, § 673, the insurer was required to give notice to the general contractor as an additional insured.
An insurer denied coverage under an all-risk homeowners insurance policy for mold contamination that was caused by water damage from a toilet that overflowed. Although the policy covered losses resulting from a sudden and accidental discharge of water from plumbing or household appliances, the insurer denied the claim for the mold damage based on terms in the policy that provided that any loss resulting from mold was always excluded, however caused. Homeowners sued for bad faith. Primary issue was whether the insurer could rely upon the “absolute” mold exclusion to deny coverage for mold damage resulting from the covered discharge of water, given that Ins. Code, § 530 incorporated into California law the efficient proximate cause doctrine.
Vaccine manufacturer was sued in lawsuits alleging that one of its vaccines caused autism and neurological disorders in children. It tendered its defense to its insurer under an umbrella insurance policy that provided both excess coverage and contingent primary coverage. The insurer disputed coverage. Issues included whether the policy provided contingent primary coverage for occurrences of bodily injury resulting from the manufacturer’s products, whether the lawsuit at issue fell within such coverage, and whether mutual mistake required reformation of the policy.
A school district, which in years past had permitted oil and gas exploration and drilling on its high school campus, was sued in multiple lawsuits for personal injury and death allegedly caused by the contamination created by these activities. The district tendered its defense its insurer, which disputed coverage. Primary issue was whether the exclusion in the policy for pollution and contamination eliminated coverage for the lawsuits.
A financially troubled bank, insured under a type of policy known as a banker's blanket bond, was denied coverage for its legal expenses in responding to regulatory subpoenas and in suing the regulators who ordered its liquidation. The bank then sued the insurance broker it had hired to purchase the banker’s blanket bond for malpractice and negligence. Issues included whether another commercially available policy existed that would have covered the bank’s legal expenses, and whether the broker owed a duty to the bank to recommend self-insurance.
Hon. Thomas L. Willhite, Jr. (Ret.)
915 Wilshire Boulevard, Suite 1900 Los Angeles, California 90017