Justia Insurance Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Idaho Supreme Court - Civil
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Travelers Insurance Co. appealed a district court decision to affirm a final order of the Idaho Department of Insurance in favor of Ultimate Logistics, LLC (“Ultimate”). The Department of Insurance’s final order upheld a hearing officer’s determination that two mechanics working for Ultimate were improperly included in a premium-rate calculation made by Travelers. In its petition for review, Travelers argued the Department of Insurance acted outside the scope of its statutory authority in determining that the mechanics could not be included in the premium-rate calculation. The district court rejected this argument. Finding no reversible error in the district court's order, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed. View "Travelers Insurance v. Ultimate Logistics, LLC" on Justia Law

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ABK, LLC owned and operated a gas station in Post Falls, Idaho where underground storage tanks were damaged due to water infiltration into the gas stored in the tanks. After the damage occurred, ABK submitted a claim to its insurer, Mid-Century Insurance Company. Mid-Century denied the claim. ABK then sued Mid-Century alleging breach of contract and bad faith. Mid-Century moved for summary judgment on both claims. The district court granted summary judgment for Mid-Century on ABK’s breach of contract claim finding ABK failed to raise a genuine dispute as to the fact the underground storage tanks were damaged by water, specifically excluded by the terms of the policy. The district court also granted summary judgment for Mid-Century on ABK’s bad faith claim finding ABK failed to establish coverage. ABK appealed the district court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of Mid-Century on both claims. Finding no reversible error, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed. View "ABK v. Mid-Century Insurance" on Justia Law

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Deena Wood was seriously injured in a car collision. At the time of the collision, Wood had auto insurance through Farmers Insurance Company of Idaho, which included $100,000 of underinsured motorist ("UIM") coverage but also contained a provision stating that the amount of coverage would be reduced by the liability limit of the at-fault driver. Because the at-fault driver’s bodily injury liability limit was equal to Wood’s underinsured motorist limit, Farmers determined that no underinsured benefits were owed to Wood. Wood challenged the denial in district court, arguing in a motion for reconsideration that the offset provision should be declared void as against public policy because it “diluted” UIM coverage. The district court rejected Wood’s argument. Finding no reversible error, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed the district court’s decision. View "Wood v. Farmers Insurance Co of Idaho" on Justia Law

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In its motion for summary judgment, Farmers Insurance Company of Idaho argued that Erica Klein was barred from pursuing a supplemental UIM claim because the five-year statute of limitations in Idaho Code section 5-216 had run. Farmers asserted the statute of limitations began to run on either the date of the accident or the date Klein settled with the third party tortfeasor, both of which occurred more than five years prior to Klein filing her complaint to compel arbitration of her UIM claim. The district court denied Farmers’s motion and subsequent motion for reconsideration, holding that the “breach of contract” rule was the proper method of calculating the accrual date for Klein’s cause of action. Farmers appealed the district court’s denial of both motions. The Idaho Supreme Court determined the issue raised by this case was one of first impression, inasmuch as it was asked to determine when the statute of limitations began to run on a cause of action for UIM benefits under an automobile insurance policy. After considering the different approaches taken by other states, the Court adopted the majority’s “breach of contract” rule and affirmed the district court’s decisions. View "Klein v. Farmers Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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This case involved an appeal brought by Aerocet, Inc., and its surety, the State Insurance Fund, in which they appealed an Idaho Industrial Commission decision involving two worker’s compensation claims brought by George McGivney. The Commission awarded McGivney benefits for injuries he sustained to his left knee while working for both Aerocet and Quest Aircraft (Quest). The Referee consolidated the two cases and issued a recommendation that attributed the vast majority of liability to Quest. The Commission rejected the bulk of the Referee’s recommendations and apportioned liability equally between Aerocet and Quest. Aerocet appealed, alleging the Commission inappropriately consolidated McGivney’s two injury claims. Aerocet also argued the Commission failed to determine McGivney’s disability in excess of impairment from his 2011 accident at Aerocet prior to his 2014 accident at Quest, and that the Commission erred in its application of Brown v. Home Depot, 272 P.3d 577 (2012). Aerocet also contended the Commission’s decision was not supported by substantial and competent evidence. After review, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed the Commission’s decisions. The matter was remanded back to the Commission to enable it to calculate the amount due Quest’s surety from Aerocet’s surety for any amounts overpaid by Quest’s surety. View "McGivney v. Aerocet, Inc" on Justia Law

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At the summary judgment stage, the district court found that an employee of Greenwald Neurosurgical, P.C. caused over $100,000 in losses to the P.C., while he was acting in the ordinary course of the P.C.’s business. The district court then issued a judgment to the P.C. for the policy amount of $100,000 pursuant to a Dishonesty Bond issued by Western Surety Company. Western appealed the district court’s determinations that the employee caused the loss while acting in the ordinary course of business and that the P.C. actually suffered the loss. The P.C. cross-appealed the district court’s findings that it was the only entity insured under the bond and argued it was awarded too little by way of attorney’s fees. The Idaho Supreme Court determined: (1) the district court correctly concluded that only the P.C. was an insured and the only entity that could recover under the bond; (2) whether the employee was acting the “ordinary course of [the P.C.’s] business” was a jury question; (3) a genuine issue of fact existed regarding the amount of losses the P.C. sustained; and (4) the district court erred in awarding attorney’s fees to the P.C. The Supreme Court therefore vacated summary judgment, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Greenwald v. Western Surety" on Justia Law

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Appellants Ryan and Kathryn McFarland owned real property in Garden Valley, Idaho, which feathred three structures insured through Liberty Mutual Insurance Group: a main cabin; a detached garage with an upstairs “bonus room”; and a pump house containing a geothermal well. The policy provided two types of coverage for structures. Coverage A (“Dwelling Coverage”) provided up to $188,500 in coverage for “the dwelling on the ‘residence premises’. . . including structures attached to the dwelling . . .” and Coverage B (“Other Structures Coverage”) provided up to $22,350 for “other structures on the ‘residence premises’ set apart from the dwelling by clear space.” In February 2017, a radiant heater burst in the bonus room and damaged the garage and its contents. After the McFarlands filed a claim, Liberty stated that the damage was covered under the policy. Believing the damage to fall under the Dwelling Coverage, the McFarlands hired contractors to repair the damage. However, after Liberty paid out a total of $23,467.50 in March 2017, Liberty stated that the coverage was exhausted because the damage fell under the Other Structures Coverage. This led the McFarlands to sue, alleging among other claims, breach of contract based on Liberty’s interpretation of the policy. The parties filed cross motions for summary judgment on the issue of whether the damage fell under the Dwelling Coverage or the Other Structures Coverage. Ruling that the policy unambiguously provided coverage for the garage under the Other Structures Coverage, the district court denied the McFarlands’ motion and granted Liberty’s. The McFarlands appealed. Finding that the policy at issue here failed to define the term "dwelling", and the term was reasonably subject to differing interpretations, the Idaho Supreme Court reversed the award of summary judgment and remanded for further proceedings. View "McFarland v. Liberty Insurance Corp" on Justia Law

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This case stemmed from Truck Insurance’s refusal to defend its insured, Scout, LLC, in a trademark infringement action brought over Scout’s use of the trademark ROGUE in the advertisement of its restaurant, Gone Rogue Pub. Scout claimed its use of ROGUE constituted an advertising injury that was covered by the insurance it purchased from Truck Insurance. Truck Insurance did not dispute that ordinarily Scout’s advertising injury would be covered and it would accordingly have a duty to defend, but coverage was properly declined in this instance based on a prior publication exclusion found in the policy. The district court granted summary judgment to Truck Insurance after determining that a Facebook post of Scout’s Gone Rogue Pub logo before insurance coverage began triggered the prior publication exclusion, thereby relieving Truck Insurance of the duty to defend Scout. Scout appealed. Finding no reversible error, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed the district court. View "Scout, LLC v. Truck Insurance" on Justia Law

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This appeal concerned the guardianship of a ten-year-old child, Jane Doe II (“Jane”), whose parents passed away in 2017. A family friend petitioned for guardianship; Jane's aunt (twin sister of her mother) also petitioned for guardianship. A guardian ad litem recommended the friend be awarded temporary guardianship for Jane to finish the school year, then the aunt be permanent guardian. The friend appealed. The final decree appointing Aunt as Jane’s permanent guardian was vacated by the Idaho Supreme Court, which remanded the case for the magistrate court to conduct a hearing to determine whether Jane possessed sufficient maturity to direct her own attorney prior to a new trial. View "Western Community Ins v. Burks Tractor" on Justia Law

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Appellant Jennifer Eastman sought a declaratory judgment that she was entitled to underinsured motorist insurance coverage (“UIM coverage”) under her auto insurance policy (the “Policy”) with Respondent Farmers Insurance Company (“Farmers”). Eastman was involved in a motor vehicle accident while traveling in a van operated by the Spokane Transit Authority (“STA”). Eastman sustained injuries as a result of the accident. Both the at-fault driver and STA held insurance policies. Eastman collected $50,000 from the at-fault driver’s insurance policy. Additionally, Eastman collected $48,846 in UIM coverage from STA’s insurance policy. Eastman’s special damages from the accident exceeded the amount that she collected from the two insurance policies. Eastman thereafter filed a claim with her insurer, Farmers, in an attempt to collect her own UIM coverage under the Policy. Specifically, Eastman sought her UIM coverage limit ($500,000) minus the $98,846 that she had already collected from the other insurance policies. Farmers denied Eastman’s claim based on an exclusion within the Policy which eliminated UIM coverage in situations where the insured was riding in another vehicle that had UIM coverage. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Farmers, ruling that an exclusion contained in the Policy precluded UIM coverage for Eastman’s injuries. Finding that the clause in Eastman's policy violated Idaho's public policy, the Idaho Supreme Court vacated the district court's judgment and remanded this case with direction to invalidate the insurance exclusion at issue here. View "Eastman v. Farmers Insurance" on Justia Law