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WASHINGTON COURT FINDS NO “COLLAPSE” COVERAGE DESPITE ENGINEER’S OPINION THAT BUILDING COULD NOT SUPPORT REQUIRED LOADS UNDER THE BUILDING CODE

Quarterly Newsletter Fall 2016 For decades, Washington insurers have faced building “collapse” claims despite the fact that no Washington Court had rendered a clear definition of what “collapse” meant. That changed last year when the Washington Supreme Court held in Queen Anne Park Homeowners Association v. State Farm Fire and Casualty Company, 352 P.3d 790...

WASHINGTON APPELLATE COURT EXPANDS APPLICATION OF IMPLIED WAIVER OF ATTORNEY-CLIENT COMMUNICATIONS DURING DISCOVERY FOR REASONABLENESS HEARING FOLLOWING A COVENANT JUDGMENT

Quarterly Newsletter Fall 2016 On July 26, 2016, the Washington Court of Appeals, Division II held that an implied waiver of attorney-client communications may occur when an insured enters into a covenant judgment with a claimant and an insurer challenges the reasonableness of the settlement. However, the Court held that, under the proper standards, the...

OREGON SUPREME COURT BARS INSURER FROM LITIGATING COVERAGE ISSUES IN SUBSEQUENT LAWSUIT FOLLOWING VERDICT IN UNDERLYING CONSTRUCTION DEFECT LAWSUIT

Quarterly Newsletter Fall 2016 Standard CGL policies limit coverage for only covered “property damage” as defined by the policy. For policies issued to contractors, however, it is not always clear whether the alleged damage constitutes covered “property damage,” or whether such damages were caused by an “occurrence” during the policy period. Oftentimes, the jury in...

WASHINGTON COURT DENIES CLASS CERTIFICATION FOR PUNITIVE CLASS ACTION REGARDING COVERAGE FOR DIMINISHED VALUE

Quarterly Newsletter Summer 2016 Over the past decade, policyholders across the country have sought recovery for so-called “diminished value” of their vehicles following repairs after a covered loss. Though Washington recognized certain diminished value claims in Moeller v. Farmers Ins. Co. of Wash., 173 Wn.2d 264 (2011), policyholders have not always been successful in seeking...

WASHINGTON COURT FINDS NO DUTY TO DEFEND FOR “BODILY INJURY” OR “PROPERTY DAMAGE” THAT HAS NOT YET OCCURRED DESPITE ALLEGATION THAT SUCH DAMAGES ARE LIKELY TO OCCUR IN THE FUTURE

Quarterly Newsletter Summer 2016 Washington Courts generally determine the existence of a duty to defend based on the “eight corners” rule. Given this limited review of just the insurance contract and the underlying complaint, some Washington Courts have found a duty to defend when there are allegations in the complaint that covered damages will occur...

WASHINGTON FEDERAL COURT DECLINES TO RULE ON WHETHER NEGLIGENT CLAIM HANDLING AND BAD FAITH CLAIMS ARE DISTINCT CAUSES OF ACTION UNDER WASHINGTON LAW

Quarterly Newsletter Summer 2016 Despite the fact that no Washington appellate court has explicitly recognized a cause of action for negligent claims handling separate and apart from a claim for insurance bad faith in first-party claims, many policy holders have asserted such claims in the past. On June 6, 2016, Judge Richard A. Jones for...

MONTANA FEDERAL COURT FINDS NO COVERAGE FOR STAND-ALONE CLAIMS BY HEIRS OF DECEASED EMPLOYEE WHO WAS INJURED FROM EXCLUDED CAUSE OF LOSS

Quarterly Newsletter Summer 2016 On June 8, 2016, Judge Carolyn S. Ostby for the United States District Court for the District of Montana held that an insurer owed no duty to defend an insured for stand-alone claims filed by heirs of a deceased person when the injury to the decedent was caused by an excluded...