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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Zurich: Third-Party Suits Not Covered

SEATTLE -- Microsoft Corp.'s general insurer has asked a federal court that it not be required to pay for legal bills stemming from the tide of third-party antitrust lawsuits filed in the wake of the U.S. Justice Department case.

Both Microsoft and Zurich American Insurance Inc. confirmed Friday that they have each filed suit against the other over the issue. Zurich, which filed first, contends Microsoft's liability insurance simply does not cover antitrust issues.

"This kind of litigation is not unusual when a company asserts coverage on a theory that we don't think has justification," said Zurich attorney Tom Brunner.

There are nearly 140 private antitrust suits filed in 38 states against Microsoft, stemming from the ruling by U.S. District Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson's rulings that Microsoft acted anti-competitively and broke antitrust law; Microsoft could be out millions of dollars if only a fraction of the suits are successful.

"We signed a policy, and we believe it covers the cost of these pending class action lawsuits," Microsoft spokesman Jim Cullinan said.

Brunner said the insurance company felt that a court opinion would settle the matter best. He added that Zurich is seeking a preliminary injunction against Microsoft's suit until Zurich's claim is dealt with.