In the recent decision of CP Food & Beverage, Inc. v. United States Fire Insurance Company, the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada held that coverage was not available under a crime policy where the insured’s employees had defrauded the insured’s customers through misuse of customer credit cards. The decision makes important findings regarding the appropriate test for “direct loss” causation in a crime policy, and reaffirms the general principle that crime policies are not intended to indemnify insureds for their vicarious liability arising from employees’ theft of third parties’ property.
Jump To: The Facts | The Decision | The Conclusion
On April 17, 2018, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals released its decision in Aqua Star (USA) Corp. v. Travelers Casualty and Surety Company of America, affirming the decision of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington (see our July 19, 2016 post). The decision offers guidance to fidelity insurers with respect to the application of the “authorized entry” exclusion found in the base wording of many commercial crime policies (sometimes referred to as the “authorized access” exclusion), and illustrates how this exclusion may operate in the context of a social engineering fraud loss.
JUMP TO: THE FACTS | THE CUMIS COVERAGE | THE CONCLUSION
On January 22, 2018, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York released its decision in Hudson Heritage Federal Credit Union v. CUMIS Insurance Society, Inc., dismissing the insured credit union’s claim pursuant to Federal Rule 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted.
According to its amended complaint, the insured had granted several vehicle finance loans on the strength of photocopies or electronic copies of New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (“DMV”) title documents. The copies received by the insured had been falsified to misrepresent the names of the owners/sellers. The Court found that the insured’s complaint failed to plead that its losses had resulted directly from forgery or alteration of an “instrument”, which the bond in issue defined as an “original … document of title”.
Jump To: The Facts | The Ownership Condition | The Conclusion
On November 20, 2017, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals released its decision in Cooper Industries, Limited v. National Union Fire Insurance Company of Pittsburgh, PA. The Court applied a crime policy’s ownership condition in ruling that the insured did not have coverage for the loss of funds incurred when an investment entity to which it had provided funds in exchange for promissory notes collapsed due to the entity’s principals’ Ponzi scheme.
The dispute arose out of the same Ponzi scheme that gave rise to the decision of the Eighth Circuit in 3M Company v. National Union Fire Insurance Company of Pittsburgh, PA (see our June 13, 2017 post). Although there are important factual distinctions between the two losses, the Fifth Circuit reached the same conclusion as the Eighth Circuit in finding that the insured had not demonstrated that it owned the property in issue.
Jump To: The Facts | The Travelers Coverage | The Conclusion
On October 31, 2017, the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey released its decision in Posco Daewoo America Corp. v. Allnex USA, Inc. and Travelers Casualty and Surety Company of America. This case features an interesting twist on the usual social engineering fraud claim scenario, in that it was the intended payee of the funds, not the payor, which asserted a claim under its own crime policy for recovery of funds which the payor had been duped into paying to an impostor. This type of claim has been referred to as a “reverse” social engineering fraud claim. Numerous such claims have been advanced by intended payees recently, typically when it comes to light that the payor did not maintain its own social engineering fraud coverage.
The Court applied traditional concepts of ownership in finding that the intended payee did not “own” the funds at any time, and thus could not establish that its claim met the ownership condition in its policy.
On October 27, 2017 the Supreme Court of Canada released its long-awaited decision in Teva Canada Ltd. v. TD Canada Trust. In a 5:4 decision, the Supreme Court held that two banks that accepted fraudulent cheques procured by a dishonest employee were strictly liable in conversion to the employer, and could not establish the “fictitious or non-existing payee” defence afforded by subsection 20(5) of the Bills of Exchange Act.
The decision is a welcome development for Canadian fidelity insurers who seek to subrogate against banks in respect of certain types of employee cheque frauds. The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the Court of Appeal for Ontario, which had found that the payees were either fictitious or non-existing. The Supreme Court’s decision places fidelity insurers in an excellent position to look to banks as subrogation targets in appropriate circumstances.
Blaneys partners David Wilson and Chris McKibbin will attend the joint FLA/ABA FSLC Conference. The FLA Conference on November 8 will focus on contemporary fidelity insurance issues, including social engineering fraud claims, knowledge of prior dishonesty, rescission, forensic investigations and communications with claimants and witnesses. The curriculum is designed for fidelity claims professionals, underwriters and lawyers. Chris will moderate the panel entitled The Future Ain’t What It Used To Be: Challenges Facing Fidelity and Commercial Crime Insurers in the 2020s. This panel addresses developing fidelity risks and exposures such as social engineering fraud, ransomware and Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.
- To register, or for more information, click here.
- A copy of the conference brochure may be accessed here.
The ABA FSLC Fall Meeting on November 9-10 is entitled “Managing and Litigating the Complex Fidelity Claim.” The program is designed as a workshop that will help fidelity claims professionals and lawyers gather useful practical tips to employ in claims handling. The program will feature a number of panel discussions on topics such as effective communications with insureds, discoverability of insurance company documents, ethics considerations, confidentiality agreements and litigation strategies. Chris will participate in the panel entitled Criminal Prosecution of the Accused, which considers how the fidelity claim investigation is affected by parallel criminal investigation and prosecution.
JUMP TO: THE FACTS | THE COMPUTER FRAUD COVERAGE | THE CONCLUSION
On August 1, 2017, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan released its decision in American Tooling Center, Inc. v. Travelers Casualty and Surety Company of America. The Court held that a vendor impersonation fraud loss did not fall within the terms of a crime policy’s computer fraud coverage. In coming to this conclusion, the Court found there was no direct causal link between the receipt of fraudulent emails by an insured requesting payment to the fraudster’s bank account, and the insured’s authorized transfer of funds to that bank account.
JUMP TO: THE FACTS | THE FUNDS TRANSFER FRAUD COVERAGE | THE CONCLUSION
On July 4, 2017, the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench released its decision in The Brick Warehouse LP v. Chubb Insurance Company of Canada. The Court found that a vendor impersonation loss did not fall within the terms of a crime policy’s Funds Transfer Fraud coverage. The case represents the first social engineering fraud decision in Canada since the widespread introduction of discrete social engineering fraud coverage, and confirms the principles adopted in several recent American social engineering fraud decisions, including the Ninth Circuit’s decision in Taylor & Lieberman (see our April 3, 2017 post), on which the Court expressly relied.
JUMP TO: THE FACTS | THE OWNERSHIP CONDITION | THE CONCLUSION
Guest Co-Author: John Tomaine
On May 31, 2017, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals released its decision in 3M Company v. National Union Fire Insurance Company of Pittsburgh, PA. The Court affirmed the decision of the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota (see our October 13, 2015 post), which had applied a crime policy’s ownership condition in ruling that the insured did not have coverage for the loss of investment earnings incurred when an investment entity in which it had a limited partnership interest collapsed due to the entity’s principals’ Ponzi scheme. The Eighth Circuit’s decision provides a good illustration of the interaction between the ownership condition and statutory and common law concepts of “ownership” as they relate to partnerships.