Eleventh Circuit Reverses Coverage Ruling Under Reinsurance Agreement

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Public Risk Management of Florida, an intergovernmental risk management association that functions as a primary insurer for certain government entities in Florida, ceded some of its risk to One Beacon under a reinsurance policy. Public Risk’s insured, the City of Wintergarden, made a claim for defense and indemnity for an underlying lawsuit against it by a contractor who performed public works, but was claimed it was underpaid as a result of delays arising from the City’s failure to provide accurate plans and maps. Public Risk defended under a reservation of rights. It also tendered the claim to One Beacon, which disagreed there was a duty to defend. Ultimately, Public Risk was not required to indemnify its insured, but sustained over $286,941.07 in loss for legal fees above the $200,000 retention, which it believed were owed by One Beacon pursuant to the reinsurance agreement. Public Risk sued One Beacon, but the district court found no duty to defend and dismissed the claim. Public Risk appealed, and the Eleventh Circuit reversed the coverage ruling, finding that the underlying claims did not sound entirely in intentional tort, and therefore there was a duty to defend. Public Risk Management of Florida v. One Beacon Insurance Co., No. 13-15254 (11th Cir. June 24, 2014).

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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