President’s Message

Dear Fellows:

There was a time in the not too distant past, in a long-gone era before central air conditioning and 24-7 communications, when courts closed for the summer and lawyers could shut their books and go to the shore for the month of August. Ah, but that was yesteryear. While the pace of activity at the ACCC has slowed somewhat since our annual meeting in Chicago last May, work has continued on several projects that you’ll be hearing a lot more about in the months to come.

Registration is now open for the College’s Sixth Annual Insurance Law Symposium at the Shepard Broad College of Law in Fort Lauderdale on November 1. On the heels of successful past programs in Mississippi, Massachusetts, California, Michigan and Washington, DC, we are heading south this year to the sunny beaches of Florida. Doug McIntosh and Hugh Lumpkin have organized a full day program on the theme of “Insurer Bad Faith: Best Practices and Litigation Trends.” In addition to several panels on emerging legal and practice issues in the bad faith arena, this year’s symposium will feature a panel organized by our ADR Committee on tips for mediating bad faith claims. We are also pleased to present a panel on climate change that is a joint production of our College and the American College of Environmental Lawyers. If you haven’t attended a symposium before, this is your chance. It’s a smaller event than our Annual Meeting and a great opportunity to network with ACCC Fellows from around the country as well as leading insurance coverage and bad faith attorneys from the Southeast.

Planning is also underway for our 2020 Annual Meeting. By popular demand, we will be returning to the Chicago Athletic Association, May 6-8, 2020. Angela Elbert and Rob Kole are heading up next year’s effort. If you have any interest in speaking or would like to organize a panel, please reach out to Angela or Rob at [email protected] or contact our Executive Director, Carol Montoya.

Our Strategic Planning Committee is developing a rapid reaction team that our public relations consultant Judy Rakowsky can put in touch with media outlets as soon as major new insurance decisions are decided. Don’t be surprised if we call on you shortly to see if you might be willing to be prepared to offer comments about upcoming rulings in your field!

Have you visited the ACCC web site lately? The Communications Committee is adding new content on a regular basis. There are links to over a dozen law firm blogs that are full of interesting reporting and commentary about insurance law. We recently posted an excellent article by Murchison & Cummings’ Bryan Weiss analyzing the issues presented by bad faith claims against insurance adjusters.

New to the ACCC this summer are our program of “pop up” calls. As part of the College’s stated mission to be a thought leader in the field of insurance coverage and bad faith law, we are scheduling monthly calls where Fellows can join a conference call to discuss major new rulings and legal developments of interest. On July 30, 28 Fellows dialed in for a spirited debate concerning the import of the Ninth Circuit’s war exclusion ruling in Universal Cable Productions v. Atlantic Specialty Insurance Company. In early September, “Tiger” Joyce of the American Tort Reform Association joined Jim Murray of Blank Rome to lead a discussion concerning the impact of loosened statutes of limitation for sexual abuse claims and the insurance coverage implications of an anticipated wave of new claims. We are also planning a “pop up” call on ransomware claims in October and a discussion of the changing contours of independent counsel claims in early November. If you have a topic that you’d like to see scheduled or are interesting in being a discussion leader, give me a call.

Meanwhile, the best way to get involved in the life of the American College of Coverage Counsel is to join one of our substantive committees. Our College looks to the committees to generate topics for our Annual Meeting as well as projects such as compendia and content and articles for the ACCC web site and quarterly newsletter. The ACCC’s committees run the gamut from traditional areas of insurance law to cutting edge areas like blockchain and cyber. If you’re interested, reach out of one of the committee chairs.

In the coming months, our Regional Meetings Committee will be organizing informal social gatherings in the major metropolitan areas where Fellows can socialize and share ideas for future ACCC projects. Do try to attend.

We will shortly be mailing out invitations to insurance law professors across the country, inviting their students to participate in our annual legal writing contest. The contest, which was pioneered by Bruce Celebrezze during his term as President, is intended to encourage insurance scholarship and build ties between our College and the pool of insurance faculty around the country. This year’s contest is entitled “The Trials of Friar Laurence” and explores the unwritten epilogue of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, in which the hapless monk who advised Juliet to take a sleeping potion that resulted in the death of both lovers is sued for malpractice by the Capulets and Montagues. Were the deaths or Romeo and Juliet one or two “occurrences”? And would the Friar’s pastoral liability insurance coverage fall afoul of a “controlled substance” exclusion.

We have a large mailing list of insurance law professors but if you teach an insurance course at a local law school or are aware of local schools that are including insurance in their curriculum, please let us know so that we can get the word out!

I will say in closing that one of the joys of leading this group is the opportunity to work with creative, brilliant lawyers. While we may differ in our views of insurance law, we are united in our love of the law and our duty as stewards of its future.

Michael F. Aylward