Justia Insurance Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Connecticut Supreme Court
Gold v. Rowland
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
State Farm Fire & Cas. Co. v. Tully
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
Martinez v. Empire Fire & Marine Ins. Co.
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
Dairyland Ins. Co. v. Mitchell
Decedent was a passenger in his own vehicle when the vehicle was involved in an automobile accident, killing Decedent. The vehicle was being driven by Decedent’s friend (Driver) at the time of the accident and was insured by Insurer. Driver was a covered permissive driver under the policy. The executrix of Decedent’s estate (Estate) filed a wrongful death action against Driver. Insurer subsequently filed this declaratory judgment action against Estate and Driver seeking a ruling that the policy did not provide coverage for Estate’s claims against Driver and that Insurer had no duty to defend Driver. The trial court rendered summary judgment in favor of Insurer, concluding that an exclusion in the policy unambiguously barred Estate’s claims against Driver. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the exclusion at issue was void and unenforceable due to its failure to comply with the clear and unambiguous requirements of Conn. Gen. Stat. 38a-335(d). Remanded. View "Dairyland Ins. Co. v. Mitchell" on Justia Law
Lexington Ins. Co. v. Lexington Healthcare Group, Inc.
In 2003, multiple residents of Greenwood Health Center, a nursing home, died or were injured when another resident set fire to the facility. Thirteen negligence actions seeking damages for wrongful death or serious bodily injury were filed against Greenwood, the lessee of the property housing Greenwood, the owner and lessor of the property, and the operator of Greenwood. Lexington Insurance Company (Plaintiff) brought this declaratory judgment action against the lessor of the Greenwood property, which was the insured party under a policy issued by Plaintiff, the other Greenwood entities, and the victims’ personal representatives. Following the filing of cross motions for summary judgment, the trial court determined the amount of coverage available under the policy and rendered judgment accordingly. Plaintiff appealed the judgment of the trial court determining available coverage, and four of the individual defendants cross appealed. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding (1) the trial court improperly interpreted the endorsement relating to the aggregate policy limit, thereby providing more coverage for the individual defendants’ claims than that to which they were entitled; and (2) the trial court improperly applied the self-insured retention endorsement to reduce the available coverage. Remanded. View "Lexington Ins. Co. v. Lexington Healthcare Group, Inc." on Justia Law
Rawls v. Progressive N. Ins. Co.
This action arose from a rear-end collision allegedly caused by Zabian Bailey. Plaintiff filed a complaint against Bailey for negligence and against Progressive Northern Insurance Company for underinsured motorist benefits. A jury returned a verdict in favor of Plaintiff. Progressive filed a motion to set aside the verdict and for judgment in accordance with the motion for a directed verdict, claiming that Plaintiff failed to present sufficient evidence for the jury to reasonably find or infer negligence and proximate cause. The trial court denied the motion. The appellate court reversed and remanded with direction to grant Progressive’s motion. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the evidence in this case was sufficient for a jury reasonably to find or infer that it was more probable than not that Bailey was negligent and that his negligence caused the collision. Remanded. View "Rawls v. Progressive N. Ins. Co." on Justia Law
Austin-Cesares v. Safeco Ins. Co. of Am.
Plaintiff filed a breach of contract action against Defendant, her insurer, claiming that Defendant improperly denied her claim for homeowners' insurance coverage after a fire damaged her home. BSI Financial Services, Inc., as the holder of the note and mortgage on Plaintiff's home, sought to intervene in the underlying action. The trial court denied the motion to intervene as untimely based on the policy's one year limitation period. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the trial court erred in denying the motion to intervene without first determining whether the motion related back to the original complaint; and (2) the motion to intervene did not constitute a new, separate action but, rather, related back to Plaintiff's original complaint. Remanded. View "Austin-Cesares v. Safeco Ins. Co. of Am." on Justia Law
MacDermid, Inc. v. Leonetti
While working for Employer, Employee filed notice of a workers' compensation claim related to a lower back injury he received during the course of his employment. Employee was discharged approximately four years later pursuant to a termination agreement that provided that he agreed to release Employer from any and all workers' compensation claims. Employer later brought an action against Employee, alleging civil theft, fraud, unjust enrichment, and conversion based on Defendant's admission that he never intended to release his workers' compensation claim. Employee counterclaimed, claiming that Employer's cause of action was in retaliation for Employee's decision to exercise his rights under the Workers' Compensation Act. Employer filed a motion to dismiss the counterclaim, asserting that the doctrine of absolute immunity shielded Employer from the counterclaim. The trial court denied the motion. The Supreme Court affirmed the trial court's decision denying Plaintiff's motion to dismiss, holding that an employer's right to seek redress for its alleged grievances in court does not outweigh an employee's interest in exercising his rights under the Act without fear of retaliation by his employer, and therefore, absolute immunity did not shield Employer from Employee's counterclaim. View "MacDermid, Inc. v. Leonetti" on Justia Law
Romprey v. Safeco Ins. Co. of Am.
After Dolly Romprey was involved in an accident, Romprey and her husband (Plaintiffs) sought to recover from their insurer (Defendant) under the uninsured/underinsured motorist provisions of their automobile insurance policy. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Defendant, concluding that Plaintiffs' action was time-barred under the relevant statute of limitations, and the tolling provision did not apply in this case because Plaintiffs failed to satisfy the threshold requirement that their claim involved an underinsured vehicle. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) a genuine issue of material fact existed concerning whether Plaintiffs had met the statutory tolling provisions of the relevant statute; and (2) therefore, the trial court erred in requiring Plaintiffs to submit evidence that they had met the requirements of the statutory tolling provision. Remanded. View "Romprey v. Safeco Ins. Co. of Am." on Justia Law
Leonetti v. MacDermid, Inc.
Claimant suffered a lower back injury during the course of his employment and filed notice of a workers' compensation claim. Employer later informed Claimant he would be discharged from his employment. Claimant signed a termination agreement in order not to forfeit his severance pay. The agreement stipulated that Claimant released his previously accepted workers' compensation claim. The Workers' Compensation Commissioner refused to approve the termination agreement, finding there was no consideration offered by Employer to Claimant in exchange for Plaintiff's release of the workers' compensation clim. The Workers' Compensation Review Board affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the Board properly affirmed the Commissioner's decision not to approve the agreement as a "voluntary agreement" or stipulation in light of its finding that Claimant's release of his workers' compensation claim was not supported by consideration. View "Leonetti v. MacDermid, Inc." on Justia Law