Justia Insurance Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Civil Procedure
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
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
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
State Farm Mutual Automobile Ins. Co. v. Wood
State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company ("State Farm") appealed a judgment entered against it on a jury verdict in an automobile-accident case. Brian Wood ("Brian") was driving through an intersection in Auburn when his vehicle was T-boned by a vehicle being driven by Mark Stafford. Brian and his wife Jennifer sued Stafford, an uninsured motorist, alleging claims of negligence, wantonness, and loss of consortium. Because Stafford was uninsured, the Woods also sued State Farm, their automobile-insurance company, seeking uninsured-motorist benefits under their policy. The jury returned a verdict in the Woods' favor, awarding them $700,000 in compensatory damages, and the trial court entered a judgment on that verdict. The jury did not award any punitive damages. State Farm filed a postjudgment motion challenging the judgment on various grounds, including whether the wantonness claim should have gone to the jury. The postjudgment motion was denied by operation of law, and State Farm appealed. After review, the Alabama Supreme Court concluded State Farm failed to establish the trial court erred by not setting aside its judgment entered on the jury's verdict, therefore the judgment was affirmed. View "State Farm Mutual Automobile Ins. Co. v. Wood" on Justia Law
Monarch Casino & Resort v. Affiliated FM Insurance Company
Monarch Casino & Resort, Inc. appealed a district court’s grant of Affiliated FM Insurance Company’s (“AFM”) motion for partial judgment on the pleadings, which denied Monarch coverage under AFM’s all-risk policy provision, business-interruption provision, and eight other additional-coverage provisions. Monarch also moved the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals to certify a question of state law or issue a stay. Monarch presented AFM with claims incurred through business interruption losses from COVID-19 and government orders directing Monarch to close its casinos. AFM denied certain coverage on the ground that COVID-19 did not cause physical loss of or damage to property. Monarch sued for breach of contract, bad faith breach of insurance contract, and violations of state law. The Tenth Circuit denied Monarch’s motions to certify a question of state law and issue a stay. And it affirmed the district court’s judgment: (1) AFM’s policy had a Contamination Exclusion provision that excludes all-risk coverage and business-interruption coverage from the COVID-19 virus; and (2) Monarch could not obtain coverage for physical loss or damage caused by COVID-19 under AFM’s all-risk provision, business-interruption provision, or eight additional-coverage provisions because the virus could not cause physical loss or damage and no other policy provisions distinguished this case. Accordingly, Monarch could not obtain the coverage that the district court denied. View "Monarch Casino & Resort v. Affiliated FM Insurance Company" on Justia Law
Dyno Nobel v. Steadfast Insurance Company
Explosives manufacturer Dyno Nobel tendered an action to its commercial general liability insurance policyholder, Steadfast Insurance Company (“Steadfast”), after being sued in Missouri for damages caused by the release of a nitric oxide plume from one of its Missouri plants. Steadfast denied the claim based on the insurance policy’s clauses precluding indemnification and defense of pollution-related bodily injury actions. Dyno Nobel thereafter filed an action in Utah state court seeking a declaratory judgment that Steadfast had a duty to indemnify and defend against this action under an endorsement titled “Vermont Changes – Pollution” (“Vermont Endorsement”). Contrary to Coverages A, B, and C in the insurance policy, the Vermont Endorsement would have required Steadfast to defend and indemnify against pollution-related bodily injury claims up to an aggregate amount of $3 million. Steadfast removed the action to federal court, and the federal district court entered judgment for Steadfast, concluding the Vermont Endorsement applied only to claims with a nexus to Vermont. Dyno Nobel appealed. After its review, the Tenth Circuit affirmed, finding the plain language of the insurance contract did not cover Dyno Nobel’s claim in the underlying action. View "Dyno Nobel v. Steadfast Insurance Company" on Justia Law
Positano Place at Naples I Condominium Association, Inc. v. Empire Indemnity Insurance Company
These appeals are about a pending insurance contract dispute between Positano Place at Naples I Condominium Association, Inc., and Empire Indemnity Insurance Company, which issued an insurance policy (the “Policy”) to Positano for coverage of five buildings that Positano owns in Naples, Florida. Following Hurricane Irma, Positano filed a first-party claim for property insurance benefits under the Policy, claiming that Hurricane Irma damaged its property and that the damage was covered by the Policy. Empire determined that there was coverage to only three of the five buildings covered by the Policy but disagreed as to the amount of the loss. Positano sought to invoke appraisal based on the Policy’s appraisal provision. Positano sued Empire in Florida state court, and Empire removed the case to federal court based on diversity jurisdiction. Positano moved to compel appraisal and to stay the case pending the resolution of the appraisal proceedings, which Empire opposed. The magistrate judge issued a report recommending that the district court grant Positano’s motion, and, over Empire’s objection, the district court ordered the parties to appraisal and stayed the proceedings pending appraisal. Empire timely appealed the district court’s order. The Eleventh Circuit dismissed the appeal. The court concluded that the district court’s order compelling appraisal and staying the proceedings pending appraisal is an interlocutory order that is not immediately appealable under 28 U.S.C. Section 1292(a)(1). The court concluded that the order compelling appraisal and staying the action pending appraisal is not immediately appealable under the Federal Arbitration Act (“FAA”). View "Positano Place at Naples I Condominium Association, Inc. v. Empire Indemnity Insurance Company" on Justia Law
Certain Underwriters v. Cox Operating
Certain Underwriters at Lloyds, London (“Lloyds”) brought an intervenor complaint against Cox Operating LLC (“Cox”) seeking to recover maintenance and cure benefits Lloyds paid to an injured seaman. Cox filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that Lloyds bears responsibility for the payments under a protection and indemnity (“P & I”) policy under which Cox is an assured. The district court agreed and granted the motion. Lloyds timely appealed. The Fifth Circuit affirmed. The court explained that even if there were ambiguity as to the term “intended operations,” as included in the limitation on the waiver of subrogation, any such ambiguity is to be resolved “in favor of coverage.” Because the M/V SELECT 102 was engaged in its “intended operations” at the time of the seaman’s injury and the limitation on the waiver of subrogation does not apply, Lloyds waived its subrogation rights as to Cox. Thus, the court affirmed the he district court’s dismissal of Lloyds’s intervenor complaint. View "Certain Underwriters v. Cox Operating" on Justia Law
Western World Insurance Group v. KC Welding, LLC
On July 12, 2018, Sunbelt Shavings, LLC (Sunbelt), requested that an employee from KC Welding, LLC (KC Welding), come to Sunbelt’s property to repair the door of a box containing wood chips. KC Welding arrived and welded the box; later that night, a fire started at Sunbelt’s property. The fire was extinguished on July 13, 2018. Three years later, on July 13, 2021, Western World Insurance Group (Western World), as the subrogee of Sunbelt, Shuqualak Lumber Co., and Wood Carriers, Inc., sued KC Welding for breach of contract and negligence. KC Welding moved to dismiss the case as untimely. On May 2, 2022, the trial court granted KC Welding’s motion, dismissing Western World’s complaint as untimely. Western World appealed. Finding that Western World had until July 12, 2021, to bring a timely claim against KC Welding, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed the trial court's dismissal of the complaint as untimely. View "Western World Insurance Group v. KC Welding, LLC" on Justia Law