Friday, August 22, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Justice Sotomayor, the insurance companies' friend

"Has she ever ruled in favor of a policyholder?" asks Philadelphia insurance lawyer Randy Maniloff after searching Sotomayor's decisions.

Justice Sotomayor, the insurance companies' friend

"Insurance coverage issues never get to the U.S. Supreme Court. There is a greater chance of me playing in the NBA than the Supreme Court agreeing to hear a pollution exclusion case," insurance lawyer Randy Maniloff of Philadelphia's White and Williams LLP tells me in a note. (He's 5'4").

So, "for fun only," Maniloff went digging through Obama Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor's "lengthy" decision record " on some "popular coverage issues" -- and found "Judge Sotomayor has been very, very insurer-friendly during her time on the bench...

"Has she ever ruled in favor of a policyholder? She has, of course, but her record reflects that her decisions have overwhelmingly been in favor of insurers. I do not have a precise tally of wins and losses... But it's insurers by a landslide." Excerpts from Maniloff's list: 

Greenidge v. Allstate Ins. Co., (2d. Cir. 2004) “The law of bad faith is not intended to reduce the incentives of insured parties to protect their own interests... The Greenidges had ample opportunity to protect their own interests...  The Greenidges’ failure to do so does not convert Allstate's refusal to accept... plaintiffs’ settlement offer into a display ‘of recklessness on the part of the insurer.’"
 
Hugo Boss Fashions, Inc. v. Federal Insurance Co. (2d. Cir. 2001) “The majority holds that even when an insurance policy exclusion unambiguously denies coverage, an insurer will need to defend a suit whenever it is ‘uncertain’ that this Court would have concluded that the policy exclusion was unambiguous I find no such requirement in New York law, I respectfully dissent...”  
 
A.M. v. Royal Ins. Co. of Am., 2000  (2d. Cir. 2000)  "The Abuse Exclusions in this case do not, on their face, require that the insured have acted intentionally... Given that a separate provision of each policy expressly excludes coverage for injury ‘which is expected or intended’ by the insured, reading an intent requirement into the ‘Abuse Exclusions’ as well would render the latter provisions all but superfluous."
 
Mount Vernon Fire Ins. Co. v. Chios Constr. Corp., 1996  (S.D.N.Y.)  "There is not even a metaphysical possibility that the Doctor injury claim is covered.... (Though) the Chios employee on site, states that ‘no subcontractor was permitted to work at any of the job sites without Chios supervision,’ this statement does not magically transform.... an independent contractor into a Chios employee or agent."
 
Maniloff concludes, "And the list could go on and on. But don’t look for any of them during the Senate Judiciary Committee Confirmation Hearings."
About this blog

PhillyDeals posts raw drafts and updates of Joseph N. DiStefano's columns and stories about Philly-area finance, investment, commercial real estate, tech, hiring and public spending, which he's been writing since 1989, mostly for the Philadelphia Inquirer.

DiStefano studied economics, history and a little engineering at Penn, taught writing at St. Joe's, and has written the book Comcasted, more than a thousand columns, and thousands of articles, and raised six children with his wife, who is a saint.

Reach Joseph N. at JoeD@phillynews.com or 215 854 5194.

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