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TABLE OF CONTENTS

The Brief
Summer 2010 Vol. 39, No.4
Article Abstracts

" Constitutional Limits on Punitive Damages after Exxon Shipping Co. v. Baker"

by Raymond L. Mariani and Barbara A. Lukeman
The 1:1 ratio of punitive damages to compensatory damages imposed by the U.S. Supreme Court two years ago in Exxon Shipping Co. v. Baker is controlling only in maritime cases, but scores of federal and state courts issuing nonmaritime decisions regarding the magnitude of punitive damages—and ratios in particular—have cited Exxon. Two punitive damages litigators examine the Exxon case and how it has been interpreted, considering whether that casehas steered other courts to reduce punitive damages and drive ratios closer to the 1:1 standard embraced by now-retired Justice David Souter. They also posit how the entrance of his replacement, Justice Sonia Sotomayor—and next, a replacement for retiring Justice John Paul Stevens—may affect future high court decisions on the issue.

 

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"Is There Coverage for Global Warming Claims under Commercial General Liability Policies?"

by Benjamin A. Blume and Nicole J. Moody
The Second and Fifth U.S. Courts of Appeals have granted standing to various plaintiffs seeking relief from the effects of global warming to bring causes of action against entities emitting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, and an appeal in a similar case is pending before the Ninth Circuit. Two insurance and reinsurance litigators examine the different factual allegations and types of relief sought in these three cases, discuss additional cases addressing coverage issues relevant to global warming, and identify potential coverage issues insurers and policyholders will need to be aware of in this growing area.


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" Climate Change and the Insurance Industry: Adjusting to New Scientific Knowledge and New Insurance Initiatives "

by Bernadette Pinto
Climate change is predicted to increase insured losses from extreme events in an average year by 37 percent within the next decade and is said to be the number one issue for the massive insurance market. A global commercial property and casualty insurance expert examines scientific conclusions from extreme weather patterns and their impact on society, and discusses mitigating and product development opportunities for the insurance industry that have arisen as responses to climate change.


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"Using Interpleader in Life Insurance Disputes Where the Beneficiary May Have Killed the Insured"

by Arthur A. Palmunen
When an insurer receives a claim on a life insurance policy where the beneficiary is suspected of foul play, one insurance litigation manager says the safest approach to insulate the insurer from a bad faith claim for failure to pay the proceeds is to file an interpleader, which consolidates all of the potential claimants into one action.


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"Accidental Death . . . Or Was It? The Question of Suicide in Life and Accidental Death Insurance"

by Kelly S. Noble
A life insurer facing the question of whether an insured’s death resulted from suicide or an accident has myriad issues to consider, including contract clauses, common-law presumptions against suicide, admissibility of coroners’ findings, and potential state law preemption by ERISA. An expert in risk management and insurance litigation examines recent case law addressing possible suicide in the context of accidental death or life insurance claims and the manner in which some of these common law issues were resolved.


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" ERISA Claims Administrators and the Fiduciary Exception to the Attorney-Client Privilege "

by Katherine Somervell and Jocelynne McAdory
The attorney-client privilege virtually disappears when the client is a fiduciary—and that fiduciary exception is applied to insurance companies acting as claims administrators for ERISA plans. Two employee benefits lawyers assert that the exception may promote transparency in the claims process but may also deter claims administrators from seeking counsel’s advice. They examine case law developments in the application of the fiduciary exception to claims administrators and highlight ethical concerns implicated by assertion of the privilege. 


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" Product Review: WestlawNext "

by Mary Cannon Veed
WestlawNext is the major new release from Thomson Reuters, TIPS’s primary sponsor. Learn why a leading member of The Brief editorial board calls it a game-changing innovation in legal searching.

 

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