Monthly Archives: June 2014

Waiver of Attorney-Client and Work-Product – You Can’t Be Just a Little Bit Pregnant

A recent Mississippi opinion dramatically underscores the dangers of an advice-of-counsel defense.  In Willis v. Allstate Ins. Co., — F.Supp.2d —, 2014 WL 1882387 (S.D.Miss., May 12, 2014), the court held that the insurer had waived both the attorney-client privilege and the work-product doctrine with respect to coverage counsel’s entire file – and not just that portion of it that the carrier was willing to produce – when its representatives testified that they relied on the attorney’s advice to deny liability.  As the saying goes, in for a penny, in for a pound. The policyholder Sandra Willis’ home was damaged by a fire on June 14, 2012, and she made a claim under her homeowner’s policy with Allstate Insurance Company. 

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Posted in Fire, Privilege, U.S. Legal System, Waiver

California Court: An Insurance Claim for Feng Shui Is Not Harmonious Qi

Feng shui is a Chinese philosophical system that supposedly orients buildings and their contents in an auspicious manner.  Last month in Patel v. American Economy Ins. Co., — F.Supp.2d —, 2014 WL 1862211 (N.D. Cal., May 8, 2014), however, a California court rejected the notion that it was compensable under a first-party property insurance policy as either a legitimate expense to repair direct physical loss or damage or a necessary extra expense to avoid additional business income loss. On October 14, 2009, a fire filled the dental offices of Dr. Namrata Patel with smoke.  Dental and electronic equipment was damaged, and she incurred costs for cleaning and repair, inventory replacement, and lost business income during a one-month closure after the

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Posted in Direct Physical Loss or Damage, Extra Expense, Fire

Connecticut Holds that When a Lapsed Policy is Reinstated, Coverage is Only Restored Prospectively

In a case of first impression in the Nutmeg State, an intermediate level court in Connecticut recently held that reinstatement of coverage after a lapse for non-payment of premiums does not operate to restore coverage retroactively.  In Brown v. State Farm Fire & Casualty Co., 150 Conn.App. 405 (May 27, 2014), the court held that coverage is only restored on a prospective basis, and it barred the insured from recovering for a fire loss that took place between the time of the lapse and the reinstatement. The insured, Ralston Brown, owned a home in Bridgeport, and he purchased a homeowner’s insurance policy from State Farm on September 16, 2004.  One year later, the policyholder secured a business policy from the

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Posted in Cancellation, Fire, Premiums, Reinstatement

Failure to File a Proof of Loss is Fatal, and the Defense Does Not Require a Showing of Prejudice

On June 3, Connecticut’s intermediate level appellate court held that the failure of a policyholder to file a sworn statement in proof of loss was fatal to his claim.  Palkimas v. State Farm Fire & Casualty Co., 150 Conn.App. 655, 2014 Conn.App. LEXIS 244 (June 3, 2014) rejected the insured’s arguments that prejudice need be shown, holding that while the insurance company may well need to make a showing of prejudice in cases involving the belated submission of a proof, its burden to make such a showing never arises in cases in which the insured has never submitted such a document. Richard Palkimas was insured under a homeowner’s policy issued by State Farm Fire & Casualty Company, and he sustained

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Posted in Notice, Proof of Loss
About The Property Insurance Law Observer
For more than four decades, Cozen O’Connor has represented all types of property insurers in jurisdictions throughout the United States, and it is dedicated to keeping its clients abreast of developments that impact the insurance industry. The Property Insurance Law Observer will survey court decisions, enacted or proposed legislation, and regulatory activities from all 50 states. We will also include commentary on current issues and developing trends of interest to first-party insurers.
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