In a case on which we previously reported, the Third Circuit recently evaluated the legal standard for determining materiality in a claim for rescission of an insurance contract.  The case involved a dispute between two reinsurers in which a federal court awarded the plaintiff $5.6 million based on breaches of the parties’ retrocession agreements.  The district court also entered summary judgment in the plaintiff’s favor on the rescission counterclaim.  The Third Circuit affirmed, ruling that the information plaintiff withheld was not material so as to amount to a breach of the duty of utmost good faith, approving the following definition of materiality under New York law: “A fact is material . . . if, had it been revealed, the insurer or reinsurer would either have not issued the policy or would have only at a higher premium.”  The Third Circuit rejected the other party’s broader definition of materiality – that information is material if it “likely” would have influenced the decision.

Munich Reinsurance Am., Inc. v. Am. Nat’l Ins. Co., No. 14-2045 (3rd Cir. Feb. 3, 2015)