November 08, 2011 -
Victory for SRBC Insurance Client in West Virginia Coverage Case
A West Virginia court has awarded a summary-judgment win to a professional-liability insurance carrier represented by SRBC's Regina Roman and John O'Neill, in a case involving a law firm's late reporting of a claim.
The law firm had apparently viewed the matter at first as a nuisance case it could handle on its own, and it delayed for several years before reporting the claim to its malpractice insurer. The insurer denied coverage because the law firm's policy (like almost all malpractice policies) covered only claims both made and reported during the current policy period.
In the ensuing coverage litigation, the firm argued (i) that it should be treated as if it were timely reporting a new claim, because of changes from the original allegations made by the plaintiff; (ii) that the insurer should be required to provide coverage because it had not been prejudiced by the delay in reporting; and (iii) that the insurer should be estopped from denying coverage based on supposed inconsistencies in how it characterized an insured's obligation to promptly report claims.
At SRBC's urging, the West Virginia court rejected all of these arguments, and agreed with the insurer that, as a matter of the policy's clear language and governing insurance law, the insurer had no obligation to defend or indemnify the law firm.