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Global News Briefs


Zurich, attorneys sanctioned in 9/11 coverage case

[NEW YORK]—Zurich American Insurance Co. and two law firms-Wiley Rein L.L.P. and Coughlin Duffy L.L.P.-must pay a total of $1.25 million (E930,000) for failing to produce a key document as part of insurance coverage litigation related to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, a New York federal court ruled last month.

The sanctions stem from Zurich employees' deletion of a 62-page electronic version of a primary liability insurance policy issued for the World Trade Center properties.

The version of the policy as it existed on Sept. 11, 2001, gave the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and Los Angeles-based Westfield Corp. Inc.-a lessee of retail space in the Twin Towers-status as an "additional insured" under certain end-orsements to the WTC policy, Judge Alvin Hellerstein said in his opinion.

But when Zurich in November 2001 issued its full, post-binder, primary liability insurance policy, it did not include those endorsements, Judge Hellerstein said.

In subsequent coverage disputes, Zurich denied that the Port Authority and Westfield were entitled to insurance coverage under the WTC policy.

"Zurich eliminated the electronic version of the policy as it existed on Sept. 11, 2001, but fortunately, the policy persisted in paper form in Mary Merkel's files," the judge said. Ms. Merkel was chief underwriter-U.S. for Zurich. Additionally, according to Judge Hellerstein's opinion, Zurich's attorneys took possession of the document from Ms. Merkel's office in March 2003, but failed to produce it until February 2005.

"Zurich's decision to assert and maintain its denial and defenses regarding the Port Authority's status as additional insured multiplied proceedings, caused substantial expenses to the parties, caused substantial waste of court time, and insulted public and judicial expectations of the standard of conduct expected of attorneys and insurance carriers," Judge Hellerstein wrote.

"Counsel's failure to recognize the importance of this document, and to produce it timely, especially when alerted to its possible existence by opposing counsel, also constitutes a violation of discovery obligations," he wrote.

Of the total $1.25 million in sanctions, the Port Authority will receive at least $625,000 (E464,500) for attorney's fees and costs. Westfield also will receive at least $250,000 (E185,815) for the costs of discovery proceedings.

"Understandably, we are disappointed by Judge Hellerstein's ruling, and are reviewing the legal options available to us. Therefore, we will not comment on the specifics of this case. We can say that it is an essential and long-standing business principle at Zurich to act lawfully and seek to do what is right. Mindful of the importance of this principle, we are always working to be even more proactive in our business procedures. These efforts are further sharpening our focus on and commitment to compliance in all aspects of our business," a Zurich spokesman said.

"The Sept. 11 liability insurance coverage cases, over which Judge Hellerstein presided, were complex and hotly contested cases. Decisions made in that context are invariably subject to varying interpretations. We have great respect for the judge and are carefully studying his opinion and the available options," Wiley Rein said.

Calls to Coughlin Duffy were not returned.

By Rupal Parekh

ACE Tempest Re to write reinsurance in China via Lloyd's

[HAMILTON, Bermuda]—ACE Tempest Re Group has established an underwriting presence at Lloyd's Reinsurance Co. (China) Ltd. in Shanghai to offer all lines of property/casualty reinsurance, ACE Tempest Re announced last month.

ACE Tempest Re also said last month that it will be offering facultative and treaty reinsurance in the Chinese market.

"We are excited by the burgeoning reinsurance opportunities of the Chinese market and look forward to building a successful business through our involvement with Lloyd's in China," said Evan Greenberg, chairman and chief executive officer of ACE Ltd.

Bo "Boris" Zheng, director of underwriting, will represent ACE Tempest Re at Lloyd's in China, the company said.

Bermuda-based ACE Tempest Re is the reinsurance unit of ACE Ltd.

By Roberto Ceniceros

GARP opens chapter in Bahrain

[MANAMA, Baharain]—The Global Association of Risk Professionals is establishing a new chapter in Bahrain. Fulya Koch, vice president and head of risk management at United International Bank in Bahrain, will serve as regional director of GARP's new chapter.

GARP, based in Jersey City, New Jersey and London, is a non-profit association with 66,300 members who are involved in financial risk management. The group's members are based in more than 100 countries and work for banks, asset management firms, insurance companies, multinationals and other organizations.

By Michael Bradford

Hiscox buys U.S. livestock insurer

[HAMILTON, Bermuda]—Hiscox Ltd. has acquired Geneva, Illinois-based ALTOHA Inc. and its livestock insurance company and agency subsidiaries.

Hiscox Ltd.-based in Hamilton, Bermuda-is paying $55 million (E40.8 million) for the holding company and its units American Live Stock Insurance Co. in Geneva, Illinois and Harding & Harding Inc., an agency in Paris, Illinois. Hiscox said in a statement announcing the deal, which is subject to regulatory approval, that it is acquiring net tangible assets of $45 million (E33.4 million).

By Michael Bradford