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The Road to Insurance Recovery

Insights for Policyholders

The Road to Insurance Recovery

  • Posts by Alana M. McMullin
    Associate

    Alana McMullin focuses her practice on defending clients in complex insurance disputes, products liability and toxic tort litigation, as well as general liability matters. Alana is also a key member of the Lathrop GPM Civil Rights ...

As a general rule, law enforcement liability insurance policies cover wrongful acts and/or injuries that result from law enforcement misconduct. However, the typical policy may include exclusions for claims of excessive force. This provision is generally referred to as the “intentional or expected acts exclusion” or “intentional injury exclusion.”

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When facing a lawsuit, most policyholders would understandably rather use familiar, trusted defense counsel instead of attorneys chosen by their insurer.

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Interviewed by Alana McMullin and David Scheidemantle of Lathrop Gage’s Insurance Recovery & Counseling Group.

In a recent decision, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit considered whether a “criminal acts” exclusion in a first-party commercial insurance policy barred coverage for damage to leased property caused by the insured’s tenant in the operation of a marijuana cultivation business.  K.V.G. Properties, Inc. v. Westfield Insurance Co., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 232296, 2018 FED App. 0178P, 2018 WL 3978211 (6th Cir. Aug. 21, 2018).  Marijuana remains illegal as a Schedule 1 drug under federal law but is protected in certain circumstances under the law of Michigan, where the insured property was located.  Fatal to the insured’s case, it had pleaded in an eviction proceeding that the tenant’s activities were illegal, which the Sixth Circuit took as an admission that the tenant’s conduct was illegal under Michigan as well as federal law, landing the claim within the confines of the criminal acts exclusion.  While paying lip service to black letter law that the insurer bears the burden of establishing the applicability of an exclusion, the court nevertheless ruled against the insured because it had provided no evidence that the tenant had complied with Michigan’s marijuana laws.  The court left open whether the exclusion still would have applied had the insured made such a showing (and hinted the outcome might have been different had the insured done so).

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Lathrop GPM is one of the largest law firms in the United States representing policyholders, providing policyholders with the necessary guidance and legal counsel to handle everything from negotiating coverage and managing risk to litigating insurance disputes and recovery. The Road to Insurance Recovery blog is dedicated to helping readers better understand and manage the complexities of the modern business insurance policy.
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