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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

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Appellants Ryan and Kathryn McFarland owned real property in Garden Valley, Idaho, which feathred three structures insured through Liberty Mutual Insurance Group: a main cabin; a detached garage with an upstairs “bonus room”; and a pump house containing a geothermal well. The policy provided two types of coverage for structures. Coverage A (“Dwelling Coverage”) provided up to $188,500 in coverage for “the dwelling on the ‘residence premises’. . . including structures attached to the dwelling . . .” and Coverage B (“Other Structures Coverage”) provided up to $22,350 for “other structures on the ‘residence premises’ set apart from the dwelling by clear space.” In February 2017, a radiant heater burst in the bonus room and damaged the garage and its contents. After the McFarlands filed a claim, Liberty stated that the damage was covered under the policy. Believing the damage to fall under the Dwelling Coverage, the McFarlands hired contractors to repair the damage. However, after Liberty paid out a total of $23,467.50 in March 2017, Liberty stated that the coverage was exhausted because the damage fell under the Other Structures Coverage. This led the McFarlands to sue, alleging among other claims, breach of contract based on Liberty’s interpretation of the policy. The parties filed cross motions for summary judgment on the issue of whether the damage fell under the Dwelling Coverage or the Other Structures Coverage. Ruling that the policy unambiguously provided coverage for the garage under the Other Structures Coverage, the district court denied the McFarlands’ motion and granted Liberty’s. The McFarlands appealed. Finding that the policy at issue here failed to define the term "dwelling", and the term was reasonably subject to differing interpretations, the Idaho Supreme Court reversed the award of summary judgment and remanded for further proceedings. View "McFarland v. Liberty Insurance Corp" on Justia Law

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In this case involving the proper method of applying a personal injury protection (PIP) insurance policy deductible to a medical provider’s bill for hospital emergency services and care, the Supreme Court approved the Fifth District Court of Appeal’s decision, holding that the deductible should be subtracted from the total charges prior to application of the reimbursement limitation in Fla. Stat. 627.736(5)(a)1.b. While this case was pending in the Court, the Fourth District Court of Appeal issued an opinion in State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co. v. Care Wellness Center, LLC (Care Wellness), 240 So. 3d 22 (Fla. 4th DCA 2018), holding that the deductible should be applied after charges are reduced under any fee schedule found in section 627.736. The Supreme Court approved the Fifth District’s decision in the instant case and disapproved the Fourth District’s decision in Care Wellness, holding that, under Fla. Stat. 627.739(2), the deductible should be applied to the total medical charges prior to reduction under the reimbursement limitation. View "Progressive Select Insurance Co. v. Florida Hospital Medical Center" on Justia Law