In Re Viking Pump, Inc.

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Justia Opinion Summary

The Delaware Supreme Court certified two questions of New York law to the New York Court of Appeals. This case was a consolidated appeal in an insurance-coverage dispute from separate trial court judgments by the Delaware Court of Chancery and the Delaware Superior Court. Viking Pump, Inc. and Warren Pumps, LLC sought to recover under policies issued to Houdaille Industries, Inc. Viking claimed it was the successor to insurance policies that Liberty Mutual Insurance Company issued to Houdaille, or in the alternative, sought partition of the Liberty policy limits. Liberty, Viking and Warrant settled their dispute, but Viking and Warren then filed new complaints in the Court of Chancery against more than twenty other insurers that had issued excess policies to Houdaille. The Court of Chancery held that Houdaille's policies unambiguously provided for an all sums allocation. The case was then transferred to the Superior Court to determine several other issues. That court held that as a matter of New York law, Viking and Warren were obligated to horizontally exhaust all triggered "primary and umbrella insurance layers before tapping" any of Houdaille's excess coverage. The legal insurers in this appeal were controlled by New York law. As such, the Delaware Supreme Court certified two questions of New York law to the New York Court of Appeals, centering on the proper method of allocation and interpretation of the policies at issue here.

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