In the wake of the $31 million dollar jury verdict in the Kobe Bryant helicopter accident photos case, Insurance Recovery & Advisory partner Benjamin Tievsky told Law360 that the municipal agencies seeking to obtain insurance coverage for their losses may face “challenges created by the allegations in this case that the [insurers] will seek to exploit as potentially barring coverage.”

Tievsky said insurers could pick and choose specific allegations in the lawsuit in an attempt to dodge coverage. For instance, the plaintiffs emphasized that the sheriff’s department intentionally strayed from standard protocol for investigating incidents such as this one, despite their awareness of the long-standing issue of improper disclosure of crime scene photos.

Nevertheless, he said that there appears to be a good argument that intentional misconduct exclusions should not apply since the plaintiffs were awarded damages due to the sheriff’s and fire departments’ negligence.

Tievsky noted that many municipal entities tend to self-insure, but may also have excess coverage or reinsurance applying in conjunction with a self-insurance program.  While insurers market many law enforcement liability insurance products, Tievsky said industry-standard forms do not yet exist and the scope of coverage may vary from product to product.

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