News

As companies increasingly produce products that rely on internet connections for updates and management, they must work with risk management and their insurance companies to make sure their liability policies change as products change. AIG explains how the Internet of Things could spell problems for companies without adequate coverage.
When Supervalu, a Minnesota-based grocery store chain, paid a claim related to an accident on the property of one of it’s stores, the company thought the issue was over. Then the estate filed a suit alleging the company “violated state insurance law by failing to promptly pay its claim” because the company was self-insured.
On New Year’s Eve, Sarah Sorensen attempted to break up a fight at the bar where she worked as a waitress in South Dakota. The attack left her with brain damage. The South Dakota Supreme Court overruled a decision by her workers comp insurance company, Harbor Bar, and said she was entitled to benefits.
They say everything’s bigger in Texas. This year, the Texas storm season lived up to the hype. The storm season there began in March with thunderstorms, tornadoes and massive rainfall which left property losses of $900 million in April and May. A drought and wildfires covered the state at the end of the summer only to be followed by more floods in the fall.
“Soft fraud” or the exaggeration or embellishment of an insurance claim results in significant losses for insurance companies each year. In a recent survey, one-quarter of respondents found padding their insurance claim to cover a deductible to be reasonable. Investigating these claims can be expensive and time consuming for the return of small settlements and may negatively impact an insurance company’s customer image.
Telecommuting offers significant benefits to both employers and employees. If your company allows telecommuting, do you have policies in place to limit your liability and will your workers’ comp cover any claims? Check your telecommuting policies for these best practices to ensure safety for both your employee and your company.
The Fifth Circuit recently decided, in an action under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), 29 U.S.C. § 1001 et seq., whether, based on a discrepancy concerning an employee’s termination date, a disability-plan administrator’s initial denial of benefits (ultimately, the benefits were approved), constitutes a misrepresentation and resulting breach of fiduciary duty.
Even though many Americans believe the First Amendment is the Holy Grail of free speech protection, it actually only sets minimum protections of free speech in our society and must be supplemented by other laws everytime technology evolves. The Consumer Review Freedom Act of 2015 is one such law.
Courts are having trouble determining what “Computer Fraud” means. Recently, a New York Court of Appeals affirmed a trial court’s ruling that a policyholder was not covered under a “Computer Systems Fraud” policy because the policy covered damage caused by fraudulent entry of data and not entry of fraudulent data into the computer system. Whereas as in a similar case, a court in Texas found that “Computer Fraud” included the use of a computer as a “substantial factor” in the bringing of harm.
The Third Circuit Court of Appeals has decided that Landmark Insurance Company and Hanover Insurance Group do not have to defend Urban Outfitter Inc. and its subsidiary Anthropologie Inc. in three putative class action lawsuits challenging the store's collection of customer zip codes. All three suits in the District of Columbia, Massachusetts, and California allege that the stores improperly collected zip codes from customers using credit cards to make purchases. The California suit alleged that the retailers “published” the information to third party vendors.
The Supreme Court is hearing oral arguments in a case that may decide whether policyholders have to pay back their insurance company for medical bills after they’ve sued and won against the person that injured them. Robert Montanile was injured by a drunk driver had his medical expenses paid by the National Elevator Industry Health Benefit Plan. He then hired a personal injury attorney and sued the driver that injured him. When Montanile received a settlement, the benefit plan asked him to reimburse them.
The Supreme Court is split across ideological lines in a case considering whether websites that collect and and sell personal information can be sued for posting false information. Virigna resident Thomas Robins sued Spokeo.com after he noticed a the profile the site had on him cotnained major errors. The Court debates whether Robins can sue Spokeo for a technical violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Liberal justices are siding with Robins who  claims that being falsely portrayed is enough to show harm whereas conservatives want evidence of how Robins was injured by the information.
The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has affirmed a Louisiana District Court’s ruling in favor of Bishop Noland Episcopal Day School. The court found that the Day School did not interfere with kindergarten teacher Heather Bernard’s rights under the Family and Medical Leave Act after she was fired for poor performance at work after receiving treatment for anorexia. Learn more.
When Sheila Hobson began working for Murphy Oil USA Inc., an operator of retail gas stations in several states, she signed a “Binding Arbitration Agreement and Waiver of Jury Trial” that required her to waive the right to pursue class or collective action claims. Hobson and three other employees later filed suit and argued that the Arbitration Agreement they signed interfered with their rights under the National Labor Relations Act. Hobson then filed an unfair labour charged with the National Labour Relations Board.
The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has affirmed a Texas District Court’s ruling in a case centering on the interpretation of an excess-insurance policy. After suffering losses in a state lawsuit, Martin Resource Management Corporation sought recovery under its primary- and excess-insurance policies. MRMC settled with its primary insurance company for less than its $10 million limit and then sought to “fill the gap” with its excess insurance policy.
The Tennessee Supreme Court has vacated a decision by the Hamilton County Trial court ruling that the state law allowing a cap to be put on personal injury damages is unconstitutional. The negligence case brought against a number of AT&T divisions and one employee seeks $25 million dollars in damages caused in an automobile accident. Donald and Betty Clark, the couple filing suit, also seek a ruling on the constitutionality of the state law that caps non-economic damages.
A New York woman is being vilified on social media after suing her 12-year old nephew for $127,000.00 for injuries she received after he jumped into her arms at his eighth birthday party. Her lawyers have stated: “From the start, this was a case...about one thing:Getting medical bills paid by homeowner’s insurance. Our client was never looking for money from her nephew or his family.” In some states, one cannot directly sue the insurance company and must sue an individual.
More and more companies are opting out of state workers’ compensations laws and writing their own rules.
Police using publicly available DNA databases like Ancestry.com and 23andme in efforts to find suspects are likely to have a high rate of false positives. A Wired article features one case where a New Orleans filmmaker was wrongly identified as a suspect in a cold murder case in Idaho, after Police partially matched his Mississippi father’s DNA to the crime.
The Southern Poverty Law Center filed an ethics complaint against an Alabama judge that told offenders they could either pay their fines, give blood, or be arrested. Those who gave blood were supposed to receive $100 credit for their fines if they brought in a receipt showing they gave blood. The Southern Poverty Law Center asserts that the fine alternative was a “violation of bodily integrity.” Learn more here:

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