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Do Fidelity Policies Issued to Individual Partners Provide Coverage for Theft of Partnership Earnings?

The Eighth Circuit is set to decide this question in 3M Company, et al. v. National Union Fire Insurance Company of Pittsburgh, Pa., et al., Appeal No. 15-3495. The answer will likely determine whether a blanket crime policy and multiple excess policies cover $176 million in partnership earnings 3M lost because of its partners’ massive Ponzi scheme. Between 1999 and 2009, 3M invested over $100 million of its Employee Retirement Income Security Act (“ERISA”) plan assets and the earnings on those investments with an entity named WG Trading Company, L.P. Stephen Walsh and Paul Greenwood controlled WG Trading and were its general partners. 3M and two of its ERISA plans were limited partners in WG Trading. Unbeknownst to 3M, Walsh

Posted in Theft or Dishonesty

Eleventh Circuit: Inventory Computation Exclusion Bars Alabama Employee Theft Claim

In February, we reported on an Alabama federal court decision that barred an insured from recovering for employee theft where the only evidence of shortage was a comparison between computer records and a physical inventory conducted after the malefactor had been discharged.  On August 6th, a unanimous panel of the Eleventh Circuit affirmed in W.L. Petrey Wholesale Co. v. Great Amer. Ins. Co., 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 13738, 2015 WL 4646599 (11th Cir., Aug. 6, 2015).  The judges held that the policy’s inventory computation exclusion was unambiguous and that inventory computation evidence was only admissible to prove the amount of loss after the existence of loss had been shown by other means. As we noted earlier this year, the insured

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Posted in Conditions, Exclusions, Theft or Dishonesty

New York Court: Undefined Word “Occurrence” in a Deductible Provision Must be Construed by the Finder of Fact

Many property policies expressly define the term “occurrence” to encompass a series of similar and related events.  Last month, however, in Rokeach v. Hanover Ins. Co., 2015 WL 2400097, U.S. Dist. LEXIS 6580 (May 19, 2015, S.D.N.Y.), a New York federal court held that when the word is employed in the policy’s deductible provision without either emphasis or quotation marks, it is effectively undefined, and the question of whether it should be understood to denote a single occurrence or a series of multiple occurrences must be determined by the jury. The policyholder operated a welding business in Uniondale, and the company stored scrap metal in an ungated yard on the property.  As summarized by the court, the undisputed facts were

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Posted in Ambiguity, Deductible, Occurrence, Theft or Dishonesty

Oklahoma Court Holds the Policyholder Can Also Be the Vandal

Earlier this week an Oklahoma federal court addressed a mortgagee’s claim for vandalism loss – a topic we also discussed in Wednesday’s post.  In American Modern Home Ins. Co. v. Tulsa Fed. Credit Union, 2015 WL 2372549, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 64491 (E.D.Okla., May 18, 2015), the court rejected an insurer’s argument that because the vandalism was done by the insured, it could not constitute the covered peril of “vandalism” in a situation in which the policy neglected to define that term. The insured owned a house and secured a homeowners policy that also extended coverage to his mortgagee.  The mortgage company instituted foreclosure proceedings and the policyholder vacated the dwelling, but only after removing fixtures and damaging property to

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Posted in Ambiguity, Homeowners Coverage, Loss Payees, Mortgagees, Theft or Dishonesty, Vandalism

Illinois Court Holds Vacancy Clause Does Not Bar Vandalism and Theft Claim by Mortgagee

In a case of first impression in Illinois, a unanimous panel of the state’s Appellate Court recently addressed the interplay between a vacancy clause and a mortgagee provision and held that the insured’s failure to comply with the former did not preclude recovery by the mortgage company after vandals did over $2 million in damage.  In Old Second Nat’l Bank v. Indiana Ins. Co., 2015 IL App. (1st) 140265, — N.E.3d –, 2015 WL 1283867, 2015 Ill. App. LEXIS 185 (Mar. 20, 2015), it held that the vacancy clause was a condition subsequent to coverage and that its violation therefore only operated to bar the policyholder’s claim even though the structure – unbeknownst to the insurer — had been vacant

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Posted in Conditions, Loss Payees, Mortgagees, Theft or Dishonesty, Vacant or Unoccupied, Vandalism

Inventory Computation Exclusion Bars Employee Theft Claim in Alabama

Employee theft claims are frequently problematic when the only evidence of shortage is a comparison between computer records and a physical inventory conducted after the malefactor has been discharged.  In W.L. Petrey Wholesale Co. v. Great American Ins. Co., 2015 WL 404523, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 10943 (N.D.Ala., Jan. 30, 2015), an Alabama federal court recently granted summary judgment to the carrier where the contract of insurance barred employee dishonesty claims based solely on “inventory computation” and such a comparison was the policyholder’s only evidence of the loss. Petrey was a wholesale distributor of goods supplied to convenience stores, one of which was a two ounce “energy shot” drink called “5-Hour Energy.”  It hired salespeople for delivery routes, and each

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Posted in Conditions, Exclusions, Theft or Dishonesty
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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