Steptoe’s success for AIG unit National Union Fire Insurance Company of Pittsburgh, Pa., was covered by Law360 in an article titled “5th Circ. Says Forgery Not Theft In Petroleum Loss Suit.” The article discusses a July 29 unanimous appellate victory for AIG in Tesoro Refining and Marketing Company, LLC v. National Union Fire Insurance Company of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Tesoro sought $15 million under a commercial crime insurance policy for alleged acts of forgery committed by its director of credit, who purportedly forged letters of credit for a major fuel customer. Steptoe had obtained summary judgment on behalf of National Union (AIG) in the Western District of Texas. The insured sought coverage under an employee theft provision, arguing that the employee forgery was covered under a clause providing that "'theft' shall also include forgery." The court rejected the argument, concluding that the policy did not extend "theft" coverage to acts of forgery divorced from theft and that the insured's contrary reading divorced the policy language from its context. The court further ruled that the insured failed to introduce evidence to create a genuine issue of material fact as to whether its employee's conduct could be construed as theft under state law, since it failed to offer any evidence that it would have acted differently had it known the account was not actually secured by the fake letters of credit.
Steptoe’s Shannen Coffin argued the case to the Fifth Circuit, with the assistance of Molly Fox. Roger Warin also worked on the appeal.
The full article can be read at Law360 (subscription required).