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WASHINGTON COURT LIMITS DISCOVERY OF INSURER’S CLAIMS-HANDLING MANUALS AND GUIDELINES FOR UNRELATED LINES OF COVERAGE

Quarterly Newsletter Winter 2017 Insurers faced with a bad faith lawsuit are often asked in discovery to produce copies of claim handling manuals and guidelines.  Oftentimes such discovery requests are broad and request any manuals or guidelines used by the insurer regardless of whether it specifically applies to the policy at issue.  Courts in various...

Washington’s New Uniform Power of Attorney Act: Surety Underwriters Beware

Surety Law Update Winter 2017 A power of attorney is an incredibly powerful document that permits an individual (the “principal”) to appoint someone (the “agent” or “attorney-in-fact”) to act on the principal’s behalf. In the context of the surety-principal/indemnitor relationship, sureties rely heavily on power of attorney clauses included in general indemnity agreements (“GIA”) in...

WASHINGTON COURT OF APPEALS REFUSES TO ALLOW PRODUCTION OF POST-LITIGATION COMMUNICATION BETWEEN INSURER AND COVERAGE COUNSEL IN DEFENSE OF UIM CLAIM

Quarterly Newsletter Fall 2017 Ever since the Washington Supreme Court rendered its decision in Cedell v. Farmers Ins. Co. of Washington, 176 Wn.2d 686, 295 P.3d 239 (2013), state and federal courts in Washington have grappled with the fallout. One of key questions is when, and to what extent, policyholders are entitled to discovery of...

WASHINGTON APPELLATE COURT FINDS INSURER NOT COLLATERALLY ESTOPPED FROM CONTESTING LIABILITY ISSUES IN DECLARATORY JUDGMENT ACTION

Quarterly Newsletter Summer 2017 In Washington, insurers can be subject to collateral estoppel, which bars litigation of the same issue in a subsequent declaratory judgment action, when that issue was actually litigated in the underlying proceeding. The circumstances that allow collateral estoppel to apply vary on a case-by-case basis, but generally turn on whether the...

OREGON COURT OF APPEALS RENDERS IMPORTANT DECISION ON VARIOUS COVERAGE ISSUES ARISING OUT OF CONSTRUCTION DEFECT LAWSUIT

Quarterly Newsletter Summer 2017 In an effort to stem the flood of claims for coverage arising out of construction defect lawsuits, insurers have included various exclusions and endorsements to limit coverage for such claims in their commercial general liability policies issued to construction contractors and subcontractors. One such exclusion, titled the “Multi-Unit New Residential Construction”...

ALASKA SUPREME COURT FINDS DUTY OWED BY LIABILITY INSURER TO THIRD-PARTY CLAIMANT

Quarterly Newsletter Spring 2017 Over the years, policyholders and their attorneys have sought to assert tort claims directly against liability insurers for alleged mishandling of liability claims. While the general rule in many jurisdictions is that third party claimants have no independent cause of action against the policyholder’s liability insurer absent an assignment of rights...