Ninth CircuitRegular readers know that one of my hobby-horse issues is what I perceive as insurers’ overbroad application of the professional services exclusion typically found in private company D&O insurance policies, particularly with respect to policyholders in services businesses. Because of this long-standing concern, I was interested to see that a policyholders’ rights group has filed an amicus brief in the Ninth Circuit in support of a policyholder’s appeal of a district court ruling that coverage under a D&O insurance policy for the underlying claim was precluded by the professional services exclusion. While the amicus brief may help focus the appellate court on the problems involved in what is a recurring situation, the larger point may be that as an industry we need to address a problem that affects all industry participants.
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FloridaAs I readers of this blog well know, a frequently recurring D&O insurance question is whether or not the policy’s insured vs. insured exclusion operates to preclude coverage. One of the many issues that can arise under the exclusion is whether or not the exclusion precludes coverage if the underlying claim is brought both by claimants that are insured persons under the policy and persons that are not insured persons. In a January 30, 2017 decision applying Florida law (here), Southern District of Florida Judge Beth Bloom ruled that a condominium association’s D&O insurance policy’s insured vs. insured exclusion barred coverage for the a claim brought by two claimants, one of whom was insured under the policy and one of whom was not.
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Peter Webster

As I have frequently noted on this blog, most recently here, the question of whether or not the Insured vs. Insured applies to preclude coverage is a frequently recurring D&O insurance coverage issue. In the following guest post, Peter Webster of the Carlton Fields law firm takes a look at a recent Florida intermediate appellate court decision interpreting and applying a D&O insurance policy’s Insured vs. Insured exclusion. Peter and his Carlton Fields colleague Patricia Thompson represented the insurer in the proceeding. I would like to thank Peter for his willingness to publish his article as a guest post on this site. I welcome guest post submissions from responsible authors on topics of interest to this site’s readers. Please contact me directly if you would like to submit a guest post. Here is Peter’s guest post.
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dcctofappealsThe problems that can arise from the wording of the professional services exclusion in a service company’s D&O insurance policy are perennial issues and a recurring topic on this blog (see for example here). When the exclusion in a service company’s management liability policy is interpreted broadly the exclusion can sweep so extensively that it can preclude coverage for the very types of claims the management liability policy was intended to insure. A recent decision from the District of Columbia’s highest court highlights these concerns.

In a February 11, 2016 District of Columbia Court of Appeals decision (here), the appellate court, applying District of Columbia law, reversed a lower court ruling that the professional services exclusion in the management  liability insurance policy of defunct Carlyle Management LLC precluded coverage for the various claims that had been asserted against Carlyle, related entities, and its senior officials. The Court of Appeals did not affirmatively conclude that the underlying claims were covered; rather, it held only that the broadly worded professional liability exclusion was ambiguous, and that the question of coverage is properly a question for a factfinder. While the appellate court did not affirmatively find coverage, the court’s opinion underscores the concerns with interpreting and applying the professional liability exclusion in a service firm’s management liability insurance policy too broadly.
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