California law has long held that an insurer may not use declaratory relief or other tactics to prejudice the defense of its policyholder in an underlying lawsuit. But in their zeal to avoid coverage, and despite California Supreme Court precedent, insurers sometimes employ tactics that actually increase their policyholder’s risk of liability in the underlying action, contrary to the very purpose of liability insurance. That was the case in the coverage action between football helmet manufacturer Riddell and its liability insurers, which is pending in California state court, where certain London Market Insurers tried to require the production of extensive discovery before that substantially identical production took place in the underlying product liability action.
If you believe the news, I may be lucky to make it out of the driveway alive on my morning commute tomorrow. That microwave-ready triple egg breakfast sausage sandwich I stuff into an increasingly jowly face on my way to the car? Recalled. The overpriced technology-assisted car that practically backs itself out of the driveway as I struggle to wipe away the remnants of my savory breakfast? Recalled. Each morning brings fresh product recall announcements involving everything from contaminated sunflower seeds to exploding toilets. This year contamination recalls in Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulated industries alone rose 167% from the first quarter to the second quarter. The exponential rise of product recalls stems from a convergence of factors, including increased governmental regulation and more extensive and technologically sophisticated testing of products.
The era of the self-driving car has arrived, with the shiny promise of fewer auto collisions—and the inevitable potholes of a transformative technology. Despite the significant concerns raised by a recent accident involving a driver’s reliance on a partially autonomous automatic braking and steering system on the Tesla Model S—one of 70,000 such vehicles now on the roads—the auto industry is roaring ahead with autonomous vehicles (AVs). Google is testing its driverless cars extensively on U.S. roads; General Motors has teamed up with car-sharing company Lyft to develop a driverless taxi service; and most major automakers will be releasing fully or partially autonomous vehicles in the next five years.
Colleagues Matthew D. Stockwell and Amanda Senske recently published an article in the June 2016 edition of Claims magazine, a PropertyCasualty360 publication, titled “Is That Product Liability Claim Covered?” In the article, they discuss Commercial General Liability insurance policies and whether or not these policies cover claims of bodily injury and property damage.