Justia Insurance Law Opinion Summaries
Brettler v. Allianz Life Insurance Co. of North America
The Court of Appeals answered in the affirmative a certified question asked by the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit asked the Court of Appeals in this case centering around a life insurance policy providing that "assignment will be effective upon Notice" in writing to the insurer.Specifically, the Court of Appeals answered that, when a life insurance policy provides that "assignment will be effective upon Notice" in writing to the insurer, the insured's failure to provide to the insurer written notice of the policy's assignment voids the assignment so that the purported assignee does not have contractual standing to bring a claim under the policy. Accordingly, the Court held that the insured in this case lacked authority under the contract at issue to sue the insurer. View "Brettler v. Allianz Life Insurance Co. of North America" on Justia Law
In re Liberty County Mutual Insurance Co.
The Supreme Court conditionally granted a writ of mandamus in this action brought by Plaintiff, Thalia Harris, against Defendant, her insurer, for underinsured motorist (UIM) benefits, holding that the trial court did not abuse its discretion by quashing requested discovery and by ordering Defendant's counsel to pay $2,000 as a sanction.Following a car collision, Plaintiff settled with the other driver for his policy limits and sued Defendant for UIM benefits. Defendant disputed the amount of Plaintiff's alleged damages and sought production from her primary care physician of Plaintiff's medical records spanning a period of ten years during which Plaintiff was involved in five other car accidents, some of which caused injuries similar to those Plaintiff sustained in the accident at issue. The trial court granted Plaintiff's motion to quash the discovery and for sanctions. The Supreme Court conditionally granted a writ of mandamus and ordered the trial court to vacate its order quashing deposition notices and ordering sanctions, holding (1) the trial court's order vitiated or several compromised Defendant's ability to present a viable defense at trial, and an appeal was not an adequate remedy; and (2) the trial court clearly abused its discretion by quashing Plaintiff's discovery requests. View "In re Liberty County Mutual Insurance Co." on Justia Law
St. Paul Fire & Marine Insurance Co. v. Bodell Construction Co.
The Supreme Court held that, under Hawai'i law, an insurer may not seek reimbursement from an insured for defending claims when an insurance policy contains no excess provision for retirement, and furthermore, a reservation of rights letter will not do.At issue was whether an insurer may seek equitable reimbursement from an insured for defense fees and costs when the relevant insurance policy contains not express provision for such reimbursement but the insurer agrees to defend the insured under a reservation of rights, including reimbursement of defense fees and costs. The Supreme Court answered the question in the negative, holding that an insurer may not recover defense costs for defended claims unless the insurance policy contains an express right to reimbursement. View "St. Paul Fire & Marine Insurance Co. v. Bodell Construction Co." on Justia Law
Wiener v. MIB Group, Inc.
The First Circuit reversed the order of the district court dismissing this case at the pleading stage for lack of standing, holding that Malcom Wiener had Article III standing to sue Defendants, MIB Group, Inc. and its executive vice president, based on additional attorney's fees and costs Wiener insured to respond to Defendants' actions in a separate lawsuit.In 2018, Wiener sued AXA Equitable Life Insurance Company, his former life insurance company, for negligence. After the jury returned a verdict in favor of Wiener the district court granted AXA's motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The court of appeals reversed the decision granting AXA's motion to dismiss. Meanwhile, Wiener brought this suit against Defendants, alleging that he incurred out-of-pocket loss in the form of attorney's fees and costs and to respond to Defendants' actions in the related lawsuit. The district court dismissed the action, concluding that Wiener lacked Article III standing. The First Circuit reversed, holding that a past, out-of-pocket loss is a basis for Article III standing, and therefore, Wiener had standing to bring this suit. View "Wiener v. MIB Group, Inc." on Justia Law
West American Insurance Co. v. Black Dog Consulting Inc.
The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the district court granting summary judgment in favor of C.H. Yarber Construction in this action brought by West American Insurance Company seeking subrogation and asserting claims of negligence and breach of contract, holding that West could not pursue its claims against C.H. Yarber in subrogation.C.H. Yarber was the tenant leasing Profile Properties' commercial property in Cheyenne when the property sustained damage from a fire. West, the insurer of the property, covered Profile's fire damages and proceeded against C.H. Yarber in subrogation. The district court concluded that West could not pursue its claims in subrogation because D.H. Yarber was a co-insured under Profile's insurance policy. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that because the relevant lease evidenced that Profile did not intend to look to C.H. Yarber to cover the insured loss, West could not pursue its claims against C.H. Yarber in subrogation. View "West American Insurance Co. v. Black Dog Consulting Inc." on Justia Law
Westfield Insurance Co. v. Sistersville Tank Works, Inc.
The Supreme Court concluded that under the continuous-trigger theory, when an insurance claim is made by alleging a progressive injury caused by chemical exposure or other analogous toxic, injurious substance, damages that are caused, continuous, or progressively deteriorating throughout successive policy periods are covered by all the occurrence-based policies in effect during those periods.This case involved claims against a standardized commercial general liability (CGL) policy alleging that long-term exposure to chemicals caused a disease to develop over a number of years before being diagnosed. The exposure to the chemicals and the development of the disease, however, happened across numerous CGL policy periods. Insurer denied coverage under its CGL policies and filed a complaint for declaratory relief. The district court granted a judgment in favor of Insured, finding that Insurer owed Insured a duty to defend and indemnify under all of its policies. The Supreme Court answered a certified question that, under the continuous-trigger theory, when a claim is made alleging a progressive injury caused by chemical exposure or other analogous harm, every occurrence-based policy in effect from the initial exposure, through the latency and development period and up to the manifestation of the bodily illness, is triggered and must cover the claim. View "Westfield Insurance Co. v. Sistersville Tank Works, Inc." on Justia Law
Government Employees Insurance Company, et al v. Glassco, Inc., et al
The Eleventh Circuit certified the following two questions to the Florida Supreme Court:(1) does Fla. Stat. § 559.921(1) grant an insurance company a cause of action when a repair shop does not provide any written repair estimate?(2) Do the violations here under the repair act void a repair invoice for completed windshield repairs and preclude a repair shop from being paid any of its invoiced amounts by an insurance company? View "Government Employees Insurance Company, et al v. Glassco, Inc., et al" on Justia Law
Accident Care & Treatment Center v. CSAA General Insurance Co.
Medical providers sued insurance company to enforce their perfected medical liens for professional services rendered to a person injured in a car accident. Insurance company disputed the: (1) reasonableness of the charges; and (2) necessity of the services. The providers argued the insurance company had no legal standing to dispute these issues, absent an assignment from the injured party. Although Insurance company prepared the "Release" with the injured person, it failed to include such an assignment. Insurance company argued that in spite of this omission, there was an "implied" assignment from the injured party as evidenced by precontract settlement discussions. The trial court ruled that there was no assignment in the executed written release and that insurance company was barred by the Parol Evidence Rule from presenting evidence to establish an implied assignment. The Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals reversed the trial court holding that summary judgment was not proper when there was a question of fact surrounding the issue of an assignment. The Oklahoma Supreme Court found there was no assignment in the executed release and there was no question of fact on material issues. Without evidence of fraud, the Court found precontract negotiations and all discussions were merged into and superseded by the terms of an executed written release. The decision of the Court of Civil Appeals was vacated; and this matter was remanded to the trial court for proceedings. View "Accident Care & Treatment Center v. CSAA General Insurance Co." on Justia Law
Scott Fetzer Co. v. American Home Assurance Co.
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the court of appeals in this dispute arising out of environmental-cleanup and remediation work at two Superfund sites in Bronson, Michigan, holding that Restatement (Second) 193 does not govern the choice-of-law analysis for bad faith claims.Scott Fetzer Company filed this action asserting a breach of contract claim against certain insurance companies, including Travelers Casualty and Surety Company, alleging breaches of certain insurance contracts. Fetzer also asserted a tort claim against each company, arguing that they had acted in bad faith when handling his claims. As to Travelers, an administrative judge concluded that Ohio law applied to a discovery dispute concerning Scott Fetzer's bad faith claim. The court of appeals affirmed, determining that Ohio law governed the bad-faith discovery dispute because the cause of action was a tort. In affirming, the court applied the choice-of-law rules set forth in section 145 of the Restatement. Travelers appealed, arguing that section 193 governs the choice-of-law analysis for bad faith claims because they arise out of insurance contracts. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the court of appeals correctly ruled that the choice-of-law analysis applicable to a bad-faith claim as provided by section 145. View "Scott Fetzer Co. v. American Home Assurance Co." on Justia Law
Ex parte Insurance Express, LLC, et al.
Petitioners Insurance Express, LLC ("Insurance Express"), Wayne Taylor, and Julie Singley sought a writ of mandamus to direct a circuit court to vacate an order staying the underlying action against defendants Lynne Ernest Insurance, LLC ("LEI"), Lynne Ernest, Chynna Ernest, and Deadra Stokley. According to the complaint, Lynne and Stokley were longtime employees of Insurance Express. It alleged that they, while still employed by Insurance Express, entered Insurance Express's office after business hours and, without authorization, made electronic copies of various business records related to Insurance Express's clients and insurance policies. Lynne and Stokley resigned soon after and began employment with LEI, which purportedly had been formed by Lynne and Chynna and was a direct competitor of Insurance Express. Lynne and Stokley, it is alleged, then induced some Insurance Express clients to transfer their policies to LEI. Insurance Express sought injunctive relief to, among other things, prevent defendants from communicating with past or current customers of Insurance Express and to require defendants to return any customer information taken by them. It further sought damages for breach of contract, conversion, intentional interference with business relations, breach of fiduciary duty, and civil conspiracy. After review, the Alabama Supreme Court found petitioners established they had a clear legal right to the relief they sought. The Court granted their petition and directed the trial court to vacate its order granting a stay. View "Ex parte Insurance Express, LLC, et al." on Justia Law