Exceeding Your Expectations

 
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            Properly ascertaining available liability limits is essential to early case evaluation. The outcome frequently affects a practitioner’s decision whether, and how, to pursue certain claims. The issue is most significant when representing a claimant against an under insured defendant with limited assets, and is complicated where a series of related events seemingly cause a single injury, or a series of related injuries. In those circumstances, how does one determine the “number of occurrences” under an applicabl...

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For years California courts struggled with first party coverage disputes where a covered peril and an excluded peril interact to cause a single loss. In 1963 the California Supreme Court created a effective rule for addressing such disputes when it incorporated into law the "efficient proximate cause doctrine" in Sabella v. Wisler (1963) 59 Cal.2d 21.  The "efficient proximate cause" doctrine allowed courts to fashion fair results within the reasonable expectations of the insured and insurer where an excluded peril combined with a covered peril to cause a single loss. However, a flurry of recent decisions is limiting the applicability of the "efficient proximate cause" doctrine by upholding once disfavored anti-concurrent causation policy exclusions.

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08
During the past several years, insurance coverage disputes arising in the context of construction defect litigation have trended away from the typical "covered loss" or "work product exclusion" arguments.  The increased use of insurance policies containing high Self Insured Retentions ("SIR") in the construction industry, combined with the recent collapse of the residential building industry, resulted in a new wave of third party coverage disputes. More and more, plaintiff attorneys are faced with a primary insurer's contention that they have no obligation to indemnify or defend its insur...

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