A recent New Jersey Appellate Division case concerning spoliation of evidence in the context of a contribution action under the New Jersey Spill Compensation and Control Act (“Spill Act”) counsels caution on the part of redevelopers of contaminated sites. The case makes clear that owners of contaminated sites must endeavor to preserve physical evidence related to the contamination as soon as litigation becomes “probable” if they hope to rely on that evidence in a future contribution action.
Policyholders may still enforce an insurer’s duty to defend under a Commercial General Liability (“CGL”) policy for claims arising out of a data security breach, according to a recent Fourth Circuit decision. While the decision was issued in an unpublished opinion (a mere 18 days after oral argument), the decision represents a significant victory for policyholders seeking insurance coverage for claims arising out of data breaches resulting in the disclosure of personal information.
Attention Corporate Policyholders: Comply With All the Notice Requirements of Your Insurance Policies When Reporting a Claim or Risk Losing All Available Coverage
A recent decision by the New Jersey Supreme Court serves as a strident warning to commercial insureds to make prompt notice of claims under claims-made policies. In Templo Fuente de Vida Corp. v. National Union Fire Insurance Company of Pittsburgh, P.A., the claims-made D&O policy at issue required written notice of a claim “as soon as practicable … and … during the Policy Period.” The insured was served with an underlying complaint on February 21, 2006. It retained defense counsel and filed an answer, but did not provide notice of the claim to its insurer until August 26, 2006 — a delay of six months, yet still within the policy period. The insurer denied coverage for various reasons, including that notice was not provided “as soon as practicable.”
“Bound by the Terms of His Bargain”: Third Circuit Underscores the Difficulty of Vacating Arbitration Awards
In a recent precedential decision, Whitehead v. The Pullman Grp., LLC, the Third Circuit reminded litigants that it’s as tough as ever to vacate an arbitration award – and cast further doubt on the viability of the “manifest disregard of the law” standard here. Appellant Pullman entered into a contract with two singer-songwriters in May 2002, which gave him the exclusive option to purchase their song catalog following a 180-day due diligence period.
Delaware Adopts Less-Stringent Approach to Authentication of Social Media Evidence: The Jury, and Not the Trial Judge, Ultimately Decides
In a recent decision, the Delaware Supreme Court held a proponent of social media evidence may authenticate that evidence using the same forms of verification available under Delaware Rule of Evidence 901 to authenticate any other type of evidence, including witness testimony, corroborative circumstances, distinctive characteristics, or descriptions and explanations of the technical process or system that generated the evidence in question. In Parker v. State of Delaware, Delaware’s high court held that the trial judge may admit a social media post when there is evidence sufficient to support a finding by a reasonable juror that the proffered evidence is what its proponent claims it to be, leaving the jury to decide whether to accept or reject the evidence.
Factual Allegations in Superceded Complaint Not Judicial Admissions, But May Be Used for Rebuttal Purposes
In West Run Student Housing Associates., LLC v. Huntington National Bank, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit ruled that, under the liberal policy of allowing amendment under Rule 15, factual allegations made in a superceded complaint are not binding judicial admissions for purposes of a motion to dismiss, but such allegations may be used in the litigation to rebut the plaintiff’s subsequent factual contentions.
Lack of Actual Notice Does Not Defeat Policy Exclusion When Insurer Made Sufficient Efforts to Provide Clear and Direct Notice of New Exclusion to Policyholder
The recent decision in MDC Acquisition Co. v. North River Insurance Co., serves as a reminder of the impact that clear and direct notice of policy changes will have on the scope of available insurance coverage. Although rendered by the Northern District of Ohio, the decision is based upon generally accepted legal principles that apply in most jurisdictions and is noteworthy for both insurers and policyholders.