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Joe is a partner in our Atlanta office and a member of the firm’s Commercial Litigation department. Joe’s practice primarily focuses on representing policyholders in complex commercial insurance coverage disputes.

In May 2022, the Illinois Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Cothron v. White Castle System, Inc. — a case that will have a substantial impact on the liability for violating the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (“BIPA”).  BIPA is considered to be among the most robust law in the U.S. governing biometric privacy, and Illinois is among the few jurisdictions permitting private suits for the unlawful collection, storage of such data.  Since its inception in 2008, BIPA has been the source of a flurry of lawsuits, many of which have resulted in substantial settlements.  The court is set to determine how to calculate the number of individual BIPA violations, whether damages accrue each time an employee scans her fingerprint, or whether the first recorded scan is the sole violation.  If the Illinois high court determines that damages accrue with each scan and BIPA violations are ongoing, then the potential damages for BIPA lawsuits would increase exponentially and open a flood of new claims.  Fortunately, insurance policyholders have had recent success arguing that coverage exists for BIPA violations under Commercial General Liability (“CGL”) policies.  A plaintiff-friendly ruling in the Cothron case would make the ability to recover under these policies even more important, and potentially open additional avenues for recovery.  In anticipation of this important ruling, this article provides a brief background on BIPA and summarizes the key decisions relating to insurance recovery of BIPA damages.

Continue Reading Update on Case Law Developments for BIPA Damages and Insurance Recovery for BIPA Claims

The Russian invasion of Ukraine and the resulting sanctions Western countries have imposed on Russia have already caused potentially catastrophic losses for businesses with assets and investments in Ukraine, Russia and neighboring countries impacted by the attack. These losses could accelerate, based on a March 9, 2022, announcement by Russia’s ruling party.

According to that announcement, a Russian government commission has begun the approval process toward Russia nationalizing the assets of foreign businesses that leave Russia in light of the economic sanctions. This could create dire economic consequences for foreign businesses that leave Russia.

Continue Reading Russia and the Insurance Angle — Tapping Political Risk and Other Insurance Coverages

Entering 2020, corporate policyholders already faced a hardening insurance market. But as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc on global markets and sow civil unrest throughout the globe, and the insurance industry faces unprecedented losses, the market has further deteriorated entering 2022.

In fact, Reuters reported COVID-19 losses of $44 billion so far, which represents the third-largest cost to insurers of any catastrophe to date (behind Hurricane Katrina and the 9/11 terrorist attacks). These factors have not only made some insurance companies reluctant to extend new coverage, but have also incentivized insurance companies to deny or delay claims until their balance sheets recover.

Continue Reading In a Hard Global Insurance Market, Will Insurers Cover Political Risk Insurance Claims?

On Nov. 23, 2021, the New York Court of Appeals sided with the policyholder, resolving a decades-long insurance coverage dispute, J.P. Morgan Sec. Inc. v. Vigilant Ins. Co., __ N.E.3d __, 2021 N.Y. Slip Op. 06528, 2021 WL 5492781 (Nov. 23, 2021). It held that a $140 million disgorgement payment to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) was a covered “loss” rather than an uninsurable “penalt[y]” under the error and omissions/professional liability policies at issue.

The 6-1 majority opinion is a landmark decision on the insurability of disgorgement and restitution damages that will likely have ramifications for policyholders seeking to recover similar losses from their insurers in disputes in New York and throughout the country.

Continue Reading New York’s Highest Court Sides With Insured: $140M Disgorgement Payment Is Covered Loss