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Timothy Hinton died from injuries sustained in a fall from a tree stand. At the time of his fall, Timothy was wearing a fall-arrest system which included a full-body harness, tether and tree strap. Timothy had purchased the tree stand and fall-arrest system from The Sportsman’s Guide, Inc. (“TSG”), in 2009. C&S Global Imports, Inc. (“C&S”) had manufactured the items and marketed them to TSG. Pekin Insurance Company insured C&S at the time of Timothy’s injury and death. After filing their third amended complaint, the Hintons filed a motion for partial summary judgment against Pekin, claiming Pekin waived its defenses to coverage or should have been estopped from asserting any coverage defenses. Among other arguments, the Hintons maintained that Pekin failed to defend C&S, did not file a declaratory-judgment action and allowed a default judgment against C&S. The circuit court denied the Hintons’ motion. Pekin then moved for summary judgment, arguing the insurance policy excluded coverage for tree or deer stands and related equipment. The circuit court granted Pekin’s motion and entered a final judgment dismissing Pekin from the suit. The Hintons appealed both of the circuit court’s rulings. After review, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed the order denying partial summary judgment to the Hintons, the order granting summary judgment to Pekin and the final judgment dismissing Pekin from the suit. View "Hinton v. Pekin Insurance Company" on Justia Law

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The Ninth Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court in this dispute between two insurance companies that arose after the settlement of certain claims brought against their insureds, holding that Cal. Gov’t Code 825.4 did not preclude Westport Insurance Corporation’s lawsuit against California Casualty Management Company and that the district court did not err in its judgment on all the remaining issues raised on appeal. This diversity insurance coverage action concerned claims for $15.8 million brought by three former students against a school district and three of its school administrators. Westport defended and settled the claims for $15.8 million and sought repayment from California Casualty, the administrators’ insurer. The district court found California Casualty liable for $2.6 million plus prejudgment interest. The Ninth Circuit affirmed, holding (1) section 825.4 did not preclude Westport’s claim; (2) California Casualty’s claim that it was not obligated to contribute to the settlements under its policy was contrary to the plain test of its policy; (3) California Casualty’s challenge to the apportionment of liability with Westport was unavailing; and (4) the district court did not abuse its discretion in awarding prejudgment interest at ten percent from the dates Westport paid the settlements. View "Westport Insurance Corp. v. California Casualty Management Co." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals to grant Dr. Robert Kleinfeld’s writ petition precluding the discovery of certain information, holding that the court of appeals did not properly apply the extraordinary writ petition standard. The case began as an insurance dispute. At issue was the insurer’s discovery request for information from Kleinfeld, individually and as corporate representative for Louisville Sports Injury Center, P.S.C. The trial court entered an order compelling LSIC, through Kleinfeld, to produce the requested discovery. Thereafter, LSIC, through Kleinfeld, filed a petition for a writ of prohibition seeking protection from the trial court’s order. The court of appeals granted the petition. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the court of appeals abused its discretion when it concluded that the extraordinarily high writ petition standard was met in this case because the court’s decision was unsupported by sound legal principles. View "Allstate Property & Casualty Insurance Co. v. Kleinfeld" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the trial justice's judgment in favor of Summit Insurance Company in this declaratory judgment action seeking to clarify Summit’s liability for prejudgment interest and damages above the policy limits set forth in Summit’s automobile insurance contract with its insured, Eric Stricklett, holding that Summit owed no duty to Scott, John, and Cathy Alves. A car operated by Stricklett struck and injured Scott Alves. Stricklett’s vehicle was insured by Summit under a policy with a $25,000 per person, $50,000 per accident coverage limit. The Alveses sent Scott’s hospital bills to Summit, but Summit informed the Alveses that it had determined that Stricklett was not at fault for Scott’s injuries. The Alveses later made a settlement demand of $300,000 to Summit. Summit offered its policy limits on behalf of Stricklett, but the Alveses rejected the offer. Summit then filed this action requesting that the court determine whether Summit had an obligation to pay any sums beyond its policy limits. The trial justice granted judgment in favor of Summit. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the duty of an insurer to affirmatively settle an insurance claim on behalf of its insured does not apply with equal force to third-party claimants in the form of a duty of good faith and fair dealing. View "Summit Insurance Co. v. Stricklett" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to Strata's excess insurer, Houston Casualty, and denial of its cross-motion for summary judgment. After an employee was killed in a mine accident, his estate filed the underlying suit alleging that Strata's intentional failure to maintain a safe workplacae triggered an exception to the Montana Workers Compensation Act which provided the exclusive remedy for work injuries. The court held that the district court properly granted summary judgment to Houston Casualty because the excess insurance policy did not cover the estate's claims against Strata in the underlying suit. Therefore, Houston Casualty had no duty to indemnify Strata and thus it did not breach its duty of good faith. In this case, under the policy's plain and unambiguous language, coverage was subject to the Montana Intentional Acts Exclusion Endorsement. View "Houston Casualty Co. v. Strata Corp." on Justia Law

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The Georgia Supreme Court granted writs of certiorari in two cases involving the liquidation of an insurance company to review the Court of Appeals’ decision in State of Georgia v. International Indemnity Company, 809 SE2d 64 (2017). The dispositive issue presented was whether the official immunity provision in OCGA 33-37-8.1 applied to claims for a “surcharge” and attorney fees against the State Insurance Commissioner and two other state employees, all in their official capacities as the liquidator and his deputies, and against a private company involved in the liquidation. The Court determined the Court of Appeals incorrectly concluded that section 33-37-8.1 would be applicable to these parties, and reversed that part of the Court of Appeals’ judgment allowing the claims to proceed against the state officer and employees in their official capacities. The Court affirmed in all other respects, meaning the case could proceed against the private company. View "Georgia v. International Indemnity Co." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court granting summary judgment to the insurer in this coverage dispute, holding that an electrical-currents exclusion in the policy applied to the loss in this case. A squirrel climbed onto an outdoor electrical transformer at the City of West Liberty’s power plant, eventually triggering an electrical arc that caused substantial damage to the City’s property. The City sought coverage from Employer’s Mutual Casualty Company (EMC) under its all-risks insurance policy. EMC denied coverage based on the electrical-currents exclusion in the policy, which excluded “loss caused by arcing or by electrical currents other than lightning.” The City sought a declaratory judgment of coverage and damages, arguing that the squirrel was an efficient proximate cause of the loss, and therefore, two independent causes, one covered and one excluded, contributed to the loss. The district court disagreed and granted summary judgment to EMC. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the loss here was “caused by arcing” and therefore was excluded even though the squirrel triggered the arcing. View "City of West Liberty v. Employers Mutual Casualty Co." on Justia Law

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The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals certified a question of state law to the Mississippi Supreme Court pertaining to an incident at Omega Protein Corporation’s (Omega) facility that resulted in the death of an employee of Accu-Fab & Construction, Inc. (Accu-Fab). Although Colony Insurance Company (Colony) continually maintained that it did not insure Omega, Colony negotiated and paid a settlement claim under a reservation of rights on Omega’s behalf. Because Colony took the position that it had no duty to defend Omega at all, the district court concluded that Mississippi’s voluntary-payment doctrine precluded Colony’s claims for equitable subrogation and implied indemnity. Pursuant to Mississippi case-law, an insurer is barred from seeking indemnity for a voluntary payment. In order to recover, the indemnitee must prove that it both paid under compulsion and that it was legally liable to the person injured. The question certified from the federal court posited whether an insurer acts under “compulsion” if it takes the legal position that an entity purporting to be its insured is not covered by its policy, but nonetheless pays the settlement demand in good faith to avoid potentially greater liability that could arise from a future coverage determination, and whether the insurer satisfies the “legal duty” standard if it makes such a payment. The Supreme Court found an insurer does not act under compulsion if it takes the legal position that an entity purporting to be its insured is not covered by its policy but nonetheless pays a settlement demand in good faith to avoid potentially greater liability that could arise from a future coverage determination. Because the first certified question is dispositive, the Court declined to address the second certified question. View "Colony Insurance Company v. First Specialty Insurance Corporation" on Justia Law

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Defendant appealed the district court's vacatur of the arbitration award plaintiff received against his insurer, Great American, for wrongfully denying his claim for damage to his corn crop. The court vacated and remanded for further proceedings, holding that vacatur of the arbitration award was improper because the arbitrators rendered a sufficiently mutual, final, and definite award. The court held that the arbitration panel's failure to break down the award by county did not mean that it was so imperfectly executed such that it rendered no mutual, final, and definite award. The court also found that the panel's written explanation for the award amount was adequate. View "Great American Insurance Co. v. Russell" on Justia Law

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Christopher Floeting alleged a Group Health Cooperative employee repeatedly sexually harassed him while he was seeking medical treatment. He sued Group Health for the unwelcome and offensive sexual conduct under the Washington Law Against Discrimination, which made it unlawful for any person or the person's agency or employee to commit an act of discrimination in any place of public accommodation. The trial court dismissed on summary judgment, pursuant to Group Health's argument the employment discrimination standard applied. The Court of Appeals reversed. Group Health argued the Washington Supreme Court should import workplace sexual harassment doctrines into the public accommodations context, thereby limiting its employer liability. Declining to do so, the Supreme Court affirmed the appellate court. View "Floeting v. Grp. Health Coop." on Justia Law