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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations

Insurance company not obligated to indemnify retailer’s payment card claims following data breach

Courts Insurance Indemnification Data Breach Privacy/Cyber Risk & Data Security

Courts

On February 8, the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota granted defendant’s motion for summary judgment, ruling that an insurance company is not obligated to indemnify a national retailer (plaintiff) for settlements paid to multiple banks to resolve claims over the costs of canceling and reissuing customers’ compromised credit and debit cards after a 2013 data breach. After the data breach, the banks sued the plaintiff for the costs associated with cancelling and reissuing the cards (payment card claims). The plaintiff notified the defendant of its potential liability for payment card costs associated with the data breach, claiming that the payment card claims were covered under the defendant’s commercial general liability policies. The defendant denied coverage under the policies, and the plaintiff filed a breach-of-contract action seeking both declaratory judgment that its liability for the payment-card claims was covered under the policies, as well as judgment against the defendant for the settlement payments related to the payment card claims. In granting the defendant’s motion for summary judgment, the court determined, among other things, that the plaintiff failed to “establish[] a connection between the damages incurred for settling claims related to replacing the payment cards and the value of the use of those cards, either to the payment-card holders or issuers.” As such, “the connection between the damages claimed and the loss of use of the payment cards is insufficiently direct and, therefore, the damages claimed are not loss-of-use damages covered under the policies,” the court stated, noting that the defendant’s policies only allowed for indemnification when the plaintiff had a legal obligation to pay damages because of a “loss of use” of “tangible property that is not physically injured.”

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