In a recent case from the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, the inadvertent online disclosure of confidential medical records was held to constitute a “publication” giving “unreasonable publicity to,” or “disclos[ing] information about,” a person’s private life and trigger the insurer’s duty to defend. Travelers Indemnity Co. of America v. Portal Healthcare Solutions, LLC, No. 13-cv-917 (E.D. Va. Aug. 7, 2014) (ECF No. 33). The insured, Portal Healthcare Solutions (“Portal”), sought coverage for an underlying class action alleging that Portal failed to safeguard the confidential medical records of patients at a Northern Virginia hospital following the inadvertent online disclosure of certain records. These records were allegedly accessible, viewable, downloadable and printable by the general public, without any security restrictions, for approximately four months before being discovered. After its insurer denied any duty to defend or indemnify the underlying action, both Portal and the insurer filed cross-motions for summary judgment on the duty to defend. The insurance policies at issue contained two relevant prerequisites to coverage: first, an electronic “publication” of material, and second, that the publication give “unreasonable publicity to,” or “disclos[e] information about,” a person’s private life. The policies did not, however, define any of these key terms. Looking to common dictionary definitions and resolving ambiguous terms in favor of the insured, the court held that the alleged online disclosure easily fell within the relevant policy language, thus triggering the insurer’s duty to defend. In doing so, the court rejected each of the insurer’s two defenses—that the disclosure had been inadvertent and that no third-party was alleged to have viewed the confidential records. According to the court, the definition of “publication” does not depend upon the would-be publisher’s intent, but rather on whether the information was, in fact, placed before the public. Likewise, the court found that “publication” does not require actual access by a third-party because it occurs at the moment the information is made available. In closing the court noted that were it to follow the insurer’s logic, a book that is bound and placed on the shelves of a book store would not be deemed “published” until a customer takes it off the shelf and reads it.