Justia Insurance Law Opinion Summaries
Armstrong et al. v. Cuffie et al.
The Georgia Supreme Court granted certiorari to consider whether the Court of Appeals properly identified the accrual date of the legal malpractice claim in this case. The court determined that the accrual date for the malpractice action based on failure to protect an underinsured motorist (“UM”) claim was the date on which the plaintiff’s attorney first became aware that the plaintiff potentially had a UM claim with available coverage. Under the facts of this case, the Supreme Court disagreed, holding that the accrual date was the last day counsel could protect the client’s UM claim by lawfully effecting service on the UM carrier. View "Armstrong et al. v. Cuffie et al." on Justia Law
Jay v. United Services Automobile Association
Nicholas Jay appealed the grant of summary judgment entered in favor of United Services Automobile Association ("USAA") on his claim against USAA seeking uninsured-motorist ("UM") benefits. Nicholas was injured in an automobile accident when riding as a passenger in Ryen Gorman's automobile. Gorman did not have automobile insurance. Nicholas received $50,000 in UM benefits through a policy he had with Nationwide Insurance Company. Thereafter, Nicholas commenced an action against USAA, seeking UM benefits pursuant to a USAA policy owned by his father-in-law, George Brewer, and under which Nicholas's wife, Michelle Jay, had automobile-insurance coverage. Because Nicholas was not a "covered person" under the USAA policy, the Alabama Supreme Court affirmed the judgment. View "Jay v. United Services Automobile Association" on Justia Law
In re USAA General Indemnity Co.
The Supreme Court granted in part mandamus relief sought by an insurance carrier from the trial court's order compelling the deposition of the carrier's corporate representative, holding that, under the circumstances, the insured was entitled to depose the carrier's corporate representative on certain matters, but some of the noticed deposition topics exceeded the narrow permissible scope of such a deposition.Frank Wearden, the insured, was involved in an accident and sued USAA General Indemnity, the insurance carrier, for breach of contract and a declaratory judgment seeking to recover benefits under his policy's uninsured/underinsured motorist provisions. Wearden served a notice of intent to take the oral deposition of a USAA corporate representative, listing certain areas the deposition would cover. USAA filed a motion to quash the deposition notice. The trial court denied the motion. The Supreme Court granted mandamus relief, holding (1) the discovery rules did not categorically prohibit the deposition of USAA's corporate representative; (2) the proper subject matter of the deposition is limited to the issues in dispute and may not intrude into matters that are privileged or are beyond the scope of those issues; and (3) with respect to Wearden's deposition topics exceeding that proper scope, the trial court abused its discretion in denying USAA's motion to quash. View "In re USAA General Indemnity Co." on Justia Law
Mississippi Farm Bureau Casualty Insurance Company v. Hardin
Jean Hardin filed a claim with Farm Bureau, her homeowner’s insurance carrier, following an alleged sudden collapse in the floor of her home. After Farm Bureau denied the claim, Hardin sued Farm Bureau for specific performance, breach of contract, fraud, misrepresentation, damages, emotional harm and upset, depression, attorneys’ fees, costs of litigation, and punitive damages related to Farm Bureau’s denial of coverage for damage to Hardin’s home. Farm Bureau filed a motion for summary judgment, which the trial court denied. Farm Bureau sought, and the Mississippi Supreme Court granted, interlocutory appeal. The Court reversed, finding the trial court erred in denying Farm Bureau’s motion for summary judgment because Hardin demonstrated proof that the water damage to her home was caused by the failure of the Town of Leakesville to maintain the ditch beside her home. Thus, because Hardin’s damages were not covered under the policy, Farm Bureau was entitled to summary judgment. View "Mississippi Farm Bureau Casualty Insurance Company v. Hardin" on Justia Law
Micheel v. American Family Mutual Insurance Co.
After plaintiff was injured in a car accident, she sought underinsured motorist (UIM) benefits from American Family. American Family paid only half of its $100,000 policy limit because of an offset provision in the policy. Plaintiff filed suit alleging that the offset provision did not apply.The Eighth Circuit reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of plaintiff, concluding that the terms of the original policy—which included the offset provision—govern here. The court explained that, under Missouri law, by continuing to pay her insurance premiums, plaintiff obtained new policy periods, but the terms of her initial policy—including the offset provision—remained the same. The court rejected plaintiff's claim that American Family created ambiguity in the insurance policy by issuing the summary. Accordingly, American Family is entitled to summary judgment. View "Micheel v. American Family Mutual Insurance Co." on Justia Law
Wright v. Turner
Plaintiff was a passenger in a truck driven by Lorenz. The vehicles were traveling on an interstate when it began to hail and rain. A sedan ahead of the truck spun out of control and collided with the front of the truck. The passengers of the sedan required medical assistance; a third vehicle struck the back of the truck, pushing the truck into the sedan. Plaintiff was severely injured. Plaintiff filed a personal injury claim for damages, alleging the drivers of the vehicles, John Turner and Sherri Oliver, had been negligent and that the negligence of each had caused her injuries and damages. She also alleged that Turner and Oliver were underinsured and that, as a result, she was entitled to UIM benefits from her own insurance company, defendant Mutual of Enumclaw Insurance. Eventually, plaintiff settled with Turner and Oliver for a total of $175,000, and the case was dismissed as to them. This case was the second appeal in a dispute between Plaintiff and her insurance company over the limits of her Underinsured Motorist (UIM) coverage. Plaintiff’s policy included a limit of $500,000 for damages “resulting from any one automobile accident.” In the first trial in this case, the jury found that plaintiff’s injuries resulted in damages of $979,540. In the second trial, the jury found that plaintiff was injured, not in one, but in two, separate “accidents,” and that it could not “separate the cause” of plaintiff’s injuries between those two accidents. Consequently, the trial court awarded plaintiff the full measure of her damages, minus offsets. On appeal, the insurance company argued the trial court had erred in its instructions to the jury and should have required the jury to apportion plaintiff’s damages between the two accidents. The Court of Appeals agreed with the company and reversed. The Oregon Supreme Court concluded the trial correctly instructed the jury it could find, as a matter of fact, the number of accidents that occurred and whether the cause of plaintiff's injuries could be separated between them. View "Wright v. Turner" on Justia Law
Machado v. Narragansett Bay Insurance Co.
The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court granting summary judgment to Defendant, Narragansett Bay Insurance Company (NBIC), in this dispute as to whether Plaintiffs, pursuant to their homeowners insurance policy with NBIC, were entitled to receive a subsequent appraisal of the damage to their property as well as additional compensation for damage incurred, holding that the superior court did not err.Plaintiffs' home, which was insured by NBIC, received water damage stemming from the accumulation of snow on their roof. Plaintiffs submitted a claim to NBIC and received, in return, a check for $14,550. After depositing the check, Plaintiffs later filed a complaint alleging that NBIC had failed to abide by the terms of the homeowners insurance policy and seeking damages for the water damage. The superior court entered summary judgment in favor of NBIC. At issue on appeal was wether Plaintiffs, pursuant to their policy, were entitled to receive a subsequent appraisal of the property damage, along with additional compensation for damage incurred. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Plaintiffs' delay in requesting an appraisal was unreasonable, thereby relieving NBIC of its responsibilities under the insurance policy. View "Machado v. Narragansett Bay Insurance Co." on Justia Law
Davis v. Blendex Co.
The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the holding of the Workers' Compensation Board that the Administrative Law Judge properly found that Plaintiff's claim for workers' compensation benefits was barred by the applicable statute of limitations, holding that there was no error.Plaintiff received a workplace injury and filed a claim for benefits. Plaintiff never sought or received any temporary total disability benefits prior to the applicable statute of limitations expiring. The insurance adjuster for the employer's workers' compensation insurance carrier offered to settle Plaintiff's claim, but the parties never reached a settlement agreement. Plaintiff later filed an application for resolution of his claim, but the employer denied the claim on the grounds that it was time barred. The ALJ found that the claim was not timely under Ky. Rev. Stat. 342.185. The Board affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the ALJ properly determined that equitable principles did not warrant the tolling of the statute of limitations. View "Davis v. Blendex Co." on Justia Law
Davis v. Progressive Direct Insurance Co.
The Supreme Court affirmed the ruling of the court of appeals excluding from the definition of a "motor vehicle" or "trailer" a horse-drawn wagon for insurance coverage purposes, holding that the insurance policy was unambiguous and did not violate Plaintiff's reasonable expectations when she purchased her motorcycle coverage.While driving her motorcycle, Plaintiff encountered a horse-drawn buggy. The horse became spooked and jumped into oncoming traffic, gravely injuring Plaintiff when she collided with the horse. Plaintiff's motorcycle was insured by Progressive, and neither the driver of the buggy nor his father carried any form of insurance. Progressive denied Plaintiff's claim under the uninsured motorist provision of her motorcycle coverage on the grounds that a horse-drawn wagon was not covered under the policy. The circuit court granted Progressive's motion for summary judgment. The court of appeals affirmed, concluding that the horse-drawn wagon did not qualify as a "motor vehicle" or "trailer of any type" under the policy terms. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Plaintiff's assertions on appeal were unsupported. View "Davis v. Progressive Direct Insurance Co." on Justia Law
United States Liability Insurance Co. v. Watson
The Supreme Court reversed the opinion of the court of appeals reversing the decision of the circuit court granting summary judgment in favor of Defendant pursuant to Kentucky's Unfair Claims Settlement Practices Act (UCSPA) and dismissing Plaintiff's bad faith claim as barred by the statute of limitations, holding that the complaint was untimely.Plaintiff was injured in a motor vehicle accident and settled his dram shop liability claim against Pure Country, LLC, an establishment insured by United States Liability Insurance Company (USLI). Several years after settling, Plaintiff brought a bad faith claim against USLI under the UCSPA. The circuit court concluded that the action was untimely and granted summary judgment for Defendant. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the trial court correctly determined that the bad faith claim against USLI was barred by the statute of limitations; and (2) the USCPA claim was not saved by relation back to an earlier filed or proposed pleading. View "United States Liability Insurance Co. v. Watson" on Justia Law