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The First Circuit affirmed the district court’s denial of Plaintiffs’ motion for reconsideration of the district court’s grant of summary judgment dismissing all of their claims against various insurance companies and certain of those companies’ employees under 42 U.S.C. 1981 and Puerto Rico law. The complaint alleged that Defendants unlawfully interfered with Plaintiffs’ right to “make or enforce” existing and prospective contracts with Defendants’ insureds or third-party claimants. The district court granted summary judgment on all claims against Defendants. The First Circuit affirmed, largely on waiver grounds, holding (1) Plaintiffs expressly waived certain issues on appeal by failing to raise them in their opening brief; and (2) Plaintiffs’ remaining claims on appeal were unavailing. View "Best Auto Repair Shop, Inc. v. Universal Insurance Group" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit against Allstate after the insurance company denied their homeowner's insurance claim. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of Allstate's motion for judgment as a matter of law. In regard to the breach of contract claim, the court held that plaintiffs failed to present sufficient evidence of the home's value and the personal property's value before or after the fire. Furthermore, a bankruptcy filing was insufficient to establish value. In this case, plaintiffs could have submitted an estimate of the personal property's value immediately before the fire, but they did not. Values on their proof-of-loss list were estimates of original purchase prices and it did not account for deterioration, obsolescence, or other depreciation as required by the policy and under Missouri law. Because plaintiff's vexatious refusal claim was derivative of their breach of contract claim, the court affirmed as to that claim. View "Aziz v. Allstate Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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This case was once again before the First Circuit after the court certified to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) some state-law questions arising from this diversity-based declaratory-judgment action governed by Massachusetts substantive law. The case was brought by Mount Vernon Fire Insurance Company, the employment-practices liability insurer of VisionAid, Inc., seeking a declaratory judgment that it had no duty to prosecute VisionAid’s embezzlement counterclaim in litigation brought against VisionAid alleging age discrimination. The federal district court ruled that Mount Vernon did not have to foot the bill for VisionAid’s affirmative counterclaim. On appeal, the First Circuit certified three questions to the SJC, two on the duty-to-defend issue and one on a conflict-of-interest issue, which was the only question left for the court to decide in the instant appeal. At issue was whether a conflict of interest existed between the parties that permitted VisionAid to choose the attorney to defend the suit brought against it by the ex-employee, with Mount Vernon paying for that defense. The First Circuit answered in the negative, holding that the presence of the embezzlement counterclaim did not generate a conflict of interest entitling VisionAid to separate counsel to defend against the ex-employee’s suit at Mount Vernon’s expense. View "Mount Vernon Fire Insurance Co v. VisionAid, Inc." on Justia Law

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Homeowner-plaintiffs Michelle and Robert Russell appealed a superior court order denying their summary judgment motion and granting that of insurer-defendant NGM Insurance Company. On appeal, the homeowners argued the trial court erred when it determined that their homeowners’ insurance policy provided no coverage for the additional living expenses they incurred when they were unable to live in their home because of mold contamination. Finding no reversible error, the New Hampshire Supreme Court affirmed. View "Russell NGM Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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An injured first party insured who is compelled to sue for underinsured motorist (UIM) benefits and recovers more at trial than the last insurance company offer, the insurer must pay the first party insured’s attorney fees in an amount determined by the district court to be reasonable. Plaintiff in this case filed suit against Farmers Insurance Exchange, demanding her UIM policy limits. After Farmers extended its final offer of $77,500 to settle the claim, the jury returned a verdict in the amount of $450,000 in favor of Plaintiff. Judgment was entered for the policy limit amount of $200,000. The district court denied Plaintiff’s motion for attorney fees. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Farmers was required to pay Plaintiff’s attorney fees because Plaintiff was compelled to sue and the jury returned a verdict higher than the amount of the last offer made by Farmers to settle her UIM claim. View "Mlekush v. Farmers Insurance Exchange" on Justia Law

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McMillin Management Services, L.P. and Imperial Valley Residential Valley Residential Builders, L.P. (collectively "McMillin") filed suit against numerous insurance companies, including respondents Lexington Insurance Company (Lexington) and Financial Pacific Insurance Company (Financial Pacific). McMillin alleged that it had acted as a developer and general contractor of a residential development project in Brawley and hired various subcontractors to help construct the Project. As relevant here, McMillin alleged that Lexington and Financial Pacific breached their respective duties to defend McMillin in a construction defect action (underlying action) brought by homeowners within the Project. McMillin alleged that Lexington and Financial Pacific each owed a duty to defend McMillin in the underlying action pursuant to various comprehensive general liability (CGL) insurance policies issued to the subcontractors that named McMillin as an additional insured. The trial court granted Lexington's motion for summary judgment, reasoning, that there was no possibility for coverage for McMillin as an additional insured under the policies "[b]ecause there were no homeowners in existence until after the subcontractors' work was complete[ ] . . . ." On appeal, McMillin contended that the fact that the homeowners did not own homes in the Project at the time the subcontractors completed their work did not establish that its liability did not arise out of the subcontractors' ongoing operations. The trial court granted Financial Pacific's motion for summary judgment, finding McMillin did not establish homeowners in the underlying action had sought potentially covered damages arising out of the subcontractors' drywall installation. The Court of Appeal reversed as to Lexington, and affirmed as to Financial Pacific. View "McMillin Management Services v. Financial Pacific Ins. Co." on Justia Law

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In this case alleging that Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County was vicariously liable for the acts or omissions of a physician who worked at the hospital as an independent contractor, the Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the district court finding that the Hospital waived its immunity by purchasing liability insurance. The Hospital had moved for summary judgment on the ground that the physician was not a Hospital employee, and therefore, the Hospital was immune from liability for his acts or omissions. The district court denied the Hospital’s motion, finding that the Hospital waived its immunity to ostensible agency claims under the insurance exception at Wyo. Stat. Ann. 1-39-118(b). The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the Hospital’s liability insurance did not provide coverage for liability beyond the liability defined by the Wyoming Governmental Claims Act, and (2) the Hospital’s liability insurance therefore did not extend the Hospital’s liability to include liability for its apparent agents. View "Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County v. Menapace" on Justia Law

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In this insurance dispute, the Supreme Court reversed the circuit court’s order granting summary judgment for TSP, Inc. and remanded for entry of summary judgment in favor of Western National Mutual Insurance Co. Western National insured BHI Inc. under a commercial general liability (CGL) policy. This dispute arose after the land surveyor hired for a project in which BHI served as the general contractor and TSP served as the architect made a surveying error. To compensate for the error, BHI and TSP agreed to provide the funds to complete the project. TSP, however, paid the entire amount and subsequently sued BHI for damages. Western National refused to provide a defense, and after BHI and TSP settled the case, BHI agreed that TSP could pursue any potential remedy against Western National that BHI might have under the CGL policy. Western National then brought a declaratory judgment action against TSP seeking a judgment that the CGL did not provide coverage for TSP’s claims. The circuit court granted summary judgment for TSP. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that a “designated professional services endorsement” in the policy excluded all potential coverage for any property damage caused by the land-surveying error. View "Western National Mutual Insurance Co. v. TSP, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff, as assignees of its customers against the insurer, appealed the district court's grant of summary judgment for the insurer. Plaintiff alleged that the insurer failed to pay sufficient funds to fulfill its obligations to return damaged vehicles to pre‐accident condition, and engaged in deceptive practices in claims processing. The Second Circuit held that the district court erred in part in granting summary judgment to the insurer on plaintiff's breach of contract claims, because the insurer failed to show its entitlement to judgment for costs relating to labor hours, parts, labor rates, electronic database access, and hazardous waste removal charges, and the absence of genuine disputes of material fact on these issues. The district court erred in granting summary judgment to the insurer on plaintiff's New York General Business Law 349 claims, because there was a question of material fact regarding plaintiff's claim that the insurer engaged in deceptive practices concerning its labor rates payments and that claim was not precluded by N.Y. Ins. Law 2601. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, vacated in part, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Nick's Garage, Inc. v. Progressive Casualty Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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To seek redress for an opioid epidemic, characterized by the Court of Appeal as having placed a financial strain on state and local governments dealing with the epidemic’s health and safety consequences, two California counties sued (the California Action) various pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors, including the appellants in this matter, Actavis, Inc., Actavis LLC, Actavis Pharma, Inc., Watson Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Watson Laboratories, Inc., and Watson Pharma, Inc. (collectively, “Watson”). The California Action alleged Watson engaged in a “common, sophisticated, and highly deceptive marketing campaign” designed to expand the market and increase sales of opioid products by promoting them for treating long-term chronic, nonacute, and noncancer pain - a purpose for which Watson allegedly knew its opioid products were not suited. The City of Chicago brought a lawsuit in Illinois (the Chicago Action) making essentially the same allegations. The issue presented by this appeal was whether there was insurance coverage for Watson based on the allegations made in the California Action and the Chicago Action. Specifically, the issue was whether the Travelers Property Casualty Company of America (Travelers Insurance) and St. Paul Fire and Marine Insurance Company (St. Paul) owe Watson a duty to defend those lawsuits pursuant to commercial general liability (CGL) insurance policies issued to Watson. Travelers denied Watson’s demand for a defense and brought this lawsuit to obtain a declaration that Travelers had no duty to defend or indemnify. The trial court, following a bench trial based on stipulated facts, found that Travelers had no duty to defend because the injuries alleged were not the result of an accident within the meaning of the insurance policies and the claims alleged fell within a policy exclusion for the insured’s products and for warranties and representations made about those products. The California Court of Appeal concluded Travelers had no duty to defend Watson under the policies and affirmed. View "The Traveler's Property Casualty Company of America v. Actavis, Inc." on Justia Law