California Duty to Defend is in Jeopardy


Kurt Melchior co-wrote an article on Calif. Duty To Defend Is In Jeopardy that was published in Law360 on Thursday, March 15, 2018.  In the article, they take an insightful look at two insurance coverage cases under review by the California Supreme Court: Liberty Surplus Insurance Co. v. Ledesma & Meyer Construction Co. Inc. and Travelers Property & Casualty Co. v. Actavis Inc. 

In the former case, the employee of a school contractor molested a student, whose parents sued the perpetrator, his employer, and the school district.  In order to determine whether the insurance provider of the employer and the school district is responsible for providing coverage, the question at stake pertains to whether negligent hiring is considered an occurrence or an accident.  In the latter case, two California counties and the city of Chicago sued multiple pharmaceutical manufacturers for allegedly deceptive marketing practices designed to increase the sales of opioid products.  The result of these practices, the lawsuit claims, has been a nationwide epidemic of drug addiction that has put a strain on public health and other government services. 

In this case, similarly, the question of whether or not the pharmaceutical companies’ insurance providers are responsible for coverage comes down to whether the negative effects of increased opioid consumption by the public at large were foreseen or foreseeable by the pharmaceutical companies or whether this result could have been purely accidental.

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