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Insurance Partner Joan Cotkin Quoted In Law360 On Important Rulings In Q1 2017

04/24/2017 IJGlobal

Nossaman Insurance Practice Group Partner Joan Cotkin was quoted in the Law360 story "5 Insurance Rulings You May Have Missed In The 1st Quarter." The piece examines recent insurance rulings that will have a significant impact on the industry. Ms. Cotkin commented on several cases, including Hiland Partners GP Holdings v. National Union and Inc. v. Travelers.

In the Hiland Partners case, the Eighth Circuit (on Jan. 31) affirmed a lower court's decision that a pollution exclusion in a National Union Fire Insurance Co. policy barred coverage for a lawsuit over an explosion at a North Dakota natural gas processing facility. Industry watchers have said  the decision wasn't surprising, given the appellate panel's reliance on prior decisions broadly interpreting pollution exclusions, but some courts have declined to apply the exclusion in circumstances where the insured is in the business of selling the pollutant at issue. Regarding the case, Ms. Cotkin said “There are a lot of cases out there saying that you don't read the pollution exclusion literally…Otherwise, nothing would be covered.”

In the matter, the  Eleventh Circuit recently declined to place Travelers Property Casualty Co. on the hook for defense costs that incurred in an underlying copyright infringement suit prior to notifying the insurer.  Those in the industry feel that that the Eleventh Circuit’s opinion averted a significant shake-up in the law by comporting with the applicable exclusionary language precluding coverage for the policyholder's pre-tender costs. Ms. Cotkin stated that the ruling “boils down to the voluntary payments provisions in these policies…The policyholder is not entitled to collect pre-tender fees because it elected to proceed in this way. It would have been quite a departure for the Eleventh Circuit to require the insurer to cover these pre-tender fees.”

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