Justia Insurance Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Connecticut Supreme Court
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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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Defendant, an independent insurance broker, offered its clients insurance products from multiple insurance companies. Plaintiff, the State, brought this action against Defendant, alleging that Defendant's failure to disclose to its clients certain contingent commission agreements that it had entered into with the insurance companies violated the Connecticut Unfair Insurance Practices Act (CUIPA) and the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act (CUTPA). The trial court rendered judgment in favor of Plaintiff. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the trial court improperly concluded that Defendant violated CUIPA; and (2) in the absence of a CUIPA violation in this case, the CUTPA claim failed. View "State v. Acordia, Inc." on Justia Law

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A construction company (Constructor) retained Defendant to arrange insurance for a new housing development. Defendant procured insurance from two insurance companies (Peerless and Hartford). Peerless denied coverage for a house destroyed by fire that was built on a lot not listed in Peerless's policy. Haynes claimed against Defendant for its negligent omission of the lot. Defendant gave notice of the loss to Plaintiff, from whom Defendant had purchased errors and omissions coverage. Defendant and Plaintiff settled with Constructor for $354,000. Constructor assigned its rights against Peerless and Hartford to Plaintiff and Defendant collectively. Defendant and Plaintiff then proceeded against the insurers for the $354,000. After the parties settled, $208,000 was deposited in an escrow account. Plaintiff sought a declaration that it was entitled to all of the escrow funds. Defendant counterclaimed for a declaration that, under Connecticut's make whole doctrine, it was entitled to recover the $150,000 deductible it contributed to the $354,000. The district court granted summary judgment for Plaintiff. The Supreme Court accepted certification from the appellate court and answered its questions by holding (1) the make whole doctrine is the default rule under Connecticut law; and (2) the make whole doctrine does not apply to insurance policy deductibles. View "Fireman's Fund Ins. Co. v. TD Banknorth Ins. Agency, Inc." on Justia Law

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In 2003, multiple residents of a nursing home (Greenwood) died or were injured when another resident set fire to the facility. Consequently, thirteen negligence actions seeking damages for serious bodily injury or wrongful death were filed against Greenwood, the owner of the property housing Greenwood, the lessee of the property (Lexington Healthcare), and the operator of Greenwood. Plaintiff issued a general liability and professional liability insurance policy to Lexington Healthcare. At issue in this case was the amount of liability insurance coverage available for the claims. The trial court determined the amount available under the policy and rendered judgment accordingly. The Supreme Court reversed in part, holding (1) the trial court improperly interpreted a policy endorsement in the policy relating to the aggregate policy limit; and (2) the trial court improperly applied a self-insured retention endorsement to reduce the available coverage. Remanded. View "Lexington Ins. Co. v. Lexington Healthcare Group, Inc." on Justia Law