Justia Insurance Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Connecticut Supreme Court
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The Supreme Court affirmed the judgment of the appellate court affirming in part and reversing in part numerous interlocutory decisions made by the trial court in connection with the first and second phases of a trial between R.T. Vanderbilt Company, Inc. and numerous insurance companies, holding that the appellate court's opinion properly resolved the significant issues raised on appeal. These appeals concerned questions of insurance law arising from coverage disputes between Vanderbilt and the insurer defendants, who issued comprehensive general liability insurance policies to Vanderbilt for more than a half a century. The disputes stemmed from lawsuits alleging injuries from exposure to industrial talc containing asbestos that Vanderbilt mined and sold. On interlocutory appeal from several decisions made by the trial court the appellate court affirmed in part and reversed in part. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the appellate court properly construed the occupational disease exclusions to bar coverage for occupational disease claims brought not only by Vanderbilt employees but also by individuals who contracted an occupational disease while working for other employers; and (2) the appellate court properly resolved the remaining issues on appeal. View "R.T. Vanderbilt Co., Inc. v. Hartford Accident & Indemnity Co." on Justia Law

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In this breach of contract and negligent infliction of emotional distress action the Supreme Court affirmed the appellate court's judgment affirming the trial court's judgment denying Defendant's motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict, holding that there was sufficient evidence to support the jury's verdict for Plaintiff. This action stemmed from Defendant's handling of Plaintiff's homeowner's insurance claim. The jury returned a verdict for Plaintiff on both counts. Defendant filed a motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict, renewing its motion for a directed verdict, arguing that the verdict was not supported by sufficient evidence presented during Plaintiff's case-in-chief. The trial court denied the motion. On appeal, Defendant contended that the so-called waiver rule - which provides that a defendant waives the right to appeal the trial court's denial of the defendant's motion for directed verdict at the close of the plaintiff's case by opting to introduce evidence in its own behalf - is inapplicable to civil cases in which a trial court reserves decision on a motion for directed verdict. The Supreme Court disagreed, holding that a court reviewing the sufficiency of the evidence to support a jury's verdict must consider all of the evidence considered by the jury returning the verdict, not just the evidence presented in the plaintiff's case-in-chief. View "Riley v. Travelers Home & Marine Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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In this negligence case, the Supreme Court answered a question certified to it by a federal district court by concluding that the trial evidence was not legally sufficient to support the jury's finding that a continuing course of conduct tolled the statute of limitations. Plaintiff insurer brought this untimely filed action against Defendant claims adjuster alleging that Defendant caused Plaintiff to incur liability to a mortgagee. Plaintiff argued that the limitation period for commencing an action was tolled until Defendant produced a document in its files that reflected the mortgagee's interest during the course of litigation between the mortgagee and Plaintiff. The jury rendered a verdict in favor of Plaintiff. The court, however, set aside the jury's verdict on the ground that there was insufficient evidence to support the jury's finding that a continuing course of conduct tolled the action. The Supreme Court concluded that the evidence was not legally sufficient to toll the statute of limitations. View "Essex Insurance Co. v. William Kramer & Associates, LLC" on Justia Law

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At issue was whether section 38a-334-6(c)(2)(B) of the Regulations of Connecticut State Agencies, which authorizes exclusions in insurance policies when the owner of the underinsured vehicle is a rental car company designated as a “self-insurer” by the Insurance Commissioner pursuant to Conn. Gen. Stat. 38a-371(c), remains valid as applied to rental car companies in light of development in federal law. The insureds in this case, who were injured by an underinsured lessee driving a rental car owned by a self-insured rental car company, were denied underinsured motorist benefits under their policies because those policies contained a self-insurer exclusion. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that section 38a-334-6(c)(2)(B) of the regulations is invalid as applied because it conflicts with the public policy manifested in Conn. Gen. Stat. 38a-336(a)(1) that requires insurance policies to provide underinsured motorist coverage. View "Tannone v. Amica Mutual Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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Exercising jurisdiction over Defendant-insurer under the circumstances of this case was permitted by Connectictut’s corporate long arm statute, Conn. Gen. Stat. 33-929(f)(1), and comported with the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Defendant issued an automobile insurance policy covering a vehicle driven by Insured. The policy was written in New York at Defendant’s principal place of business, and Defendant did not direct or participate in any business transactions in Connecticut at the time. The coverage territory of the policy included Connecticut. Insured’s vehicle later collided with a vehicle occupied by Plaintiffs. A judgment was rendered against Insured in favor of Plaintiffs. Defendant failed to defend Insured or to indemnify him for the judgment rendered against him. Plaintiffs then brought this action against Defendant. Defendant moved to dismiss the action for lack of personal jurisdiction. The trial court granted the motion to dismiss. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Defendant’s agreement to defend and indemnify Insured established personal jurisdiction under the long arm statute and that subjecting Defendant to the jurisdiction of this state comported with the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. View "Samelko v. Kingstone Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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Exercising jurisdiction over Defendant-insurer under the circumstances of this case was permitted by Connectictut’s corporate long arm statute, Conn. Gen. Stat. 33-929(f)(1), and comported with the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Defendant issued an automobile insurance policy covering a vehicle driven by Insured. The policy was written in New York at Defendant’s principal place of business, and Defendant did not direct or participate in any business transactions in Connecticut at the time. The coverage territory of the policy included Connecticut. Insured’s vehicle later collided with a vehicle occupied by Plaintiffs. A judgment was rendered against Insured in favor of Plaintiffs. Defendant failed to defend Insured or to indemnify him for the judgment rendered against him. Plaintiffs then brought this action against Defendant. Defendant moved to dismiss the action for lack of personal jurisdiction. The trial court granted the motion to dismiss. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that Defendant’s agreement to defend and indemnify Insured established personal jurisdiction under the long arm statute and that subjecting Defendant to the jurisdiction of this state comported with the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. View "Samelko v. Kingstone Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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At issue was whether an insurer was obligated to indemnify a business owner under a personal insurance policy for liability arising form his false imprisonment of his company’s employee at her workplace. The business owner appealed, challenging the appellate court’s determination that such liability fell under the business pursuits exclusion to coverage under his personal umbrella policy. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) neither the appellate court nor the trial court employed the correct standard for determining whether the business owner’s tortious conduct was an occurrence “arising out of” the business pursuits of the insured; (2) remand was necessary to determine whether the business pursuits exception applied under the correct standard; and (3) Plaintiffs could not prevail on their alternative grounds regarding other exclusions and public policy as a matter of law. View "Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co. v. Pasiak" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff were a class of state employees and retirees who were enrolled in an Anthem Insurance group health insurance plan at the time of the 2001 demutualization of Anthem Insurance Companies. Plaintiffs brought suit against former Governor John Rowland, the State, Anthem Insurance, and other insurance company defendants alleging that their participation in the plan entitled them to membership in Anthem Insurance and a share of the demutualization proceeds. Plaintiffs claimed that Anthem Insurance and the other insurance company defendants breached their contractual obligations by not paying Plaintiffs for their membership interests and instead distributing their share of the proceeds to the State. The Supreme Court concluded that Plaintiffs’ claims against Rowland and the State were barred by the doctrine of sovereign immunity or otherwise should have been dismissed. After a trial, the trial court rendered judgment for the remaining defendants. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the trial court correctly concluded that the relevant contract provisions were ambiguous as to Plaintiffs’ eligibility for membership in Anthem Insurance and their entitlement to a share of the demutualization proceeds and properly considered extrinsic evidence to determine their meaning. View "Gold v. Rowland" on Justia Law

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Child Doe brought a civil action against Mark Tully, alleging that Tully negligently sexually assaulted Doe while he was intoxicated. State Farm Fire and Casualty Company previously issued a homeowners insurance policy to Tully providing that State Farm would defend Tully from claims resulting from an “occurrence” but not from claims resulting from Tully’s intentional actions. State Farm brought this action seeking a declaratory judgment that it owed no duty to defend Tully under the policy. The trial court granted summary judgment for State Farm, concluding that Tully’s actions fell outside the scope of the policy and, therefore, State Farm had no duty to defend him under the presumption of intent established in United Servs. Auto. Ass’n v. Marburg. Tully and Doe appealed, arguing that the evidence that Tully was intoxicated at the time of the incident created a genuine issue of material fact as to whether his actions were intentional. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that evidence of voluntary intoxication may not negate intent in duty to defend cases such as the case here. View "State Farm Fire & Cas. Co. v. Tully" on Justia Law

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A truck being driven by an employee of Tony’s Long Wharf Transport, LLC was on an intrastate trip entirely within Connecticut when the truck collided with a car being driven by Renee Martinez, causing Martinez injuries. Martinez sued Tony’s for negligence and obtained a judgment that remained unpaid. Martinez sought to collect the unpaid judgment from Tony’s insurer, Empire Fire and Marine Insurance Company, but Empire denied it was responsible for Tony’s liability under its policy with Tony’s. In dispute between the parties was whether a federally mandated insurance endorsement included in the policy, known as an MCS-90 endorsement, applies only to liability arising during interstate transportation or applies even if the accident occurs during an entirely intrastate trip. The trial court rendered summary judgment in favor of Empire, concluding that the MCS-90 endorsement applies only to accidents occurring while the motor carrier’s vehicle was traveling in interstate commerce. The Appellate Court affirmed on an alternative ground. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the MCS-90 endorsement applies only to liability arising from the transportation of property in interstate commerce, and (2) the particular trip at issue in this case did not qualify as the transportation of property in interstate commerce. View "Martinez v. Empire Fire & Marine Ins. Co." on Justia Law