Justia Insurance Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Idaho Supreme Court - Civil
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After receiving reminder notices by mail, the insureds failed to pay a renewal premium for a rented home by the due date. Fourteen days after payment was due, the insureds mailed a check to the insurance company for the late renewal premium. Six days later, but before the insurance company reviewed the late payment, a fire occurred at the home. Two days after the fire, the insurance company returned the late payment, denied coverage for the loss, and denied reinstatement of the policy. The insurance company subsequently brought a declaratory judgment action against the insureds. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the insurance company. Finding no reversible error in that judgment, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed. View "United Heritage v. Zech" on Justia Law

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Erick Pena filed a declaratory action against Viking Insurance Company of Wisconsin (“Viking”), alleging the automobile insurance policy he purchased was illegal because it provided illusory minimum limits of UIM coverage. Pena then filed a motion for summary judgment asking the court to declare that the UIM coverage was illusory. Viking filed a cross-motion for summary judgment, arguing that the policy was not illusory because it provided tangible benefits to a group of insured persons and that the offset provision in the policy complied with Idaho public policy. The district court granted Viking’s motion for summary judgment. Pena timely appealed. After review, the Idaho Supreme Court reversed, finding the policy at issue indeed provided illusory coverage. View "Pena v. Viking Insurance Company" on Justia Law

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Taleetha Fuentes filed a worker's compensation complaint against her employer Cavco Industries and Cavco’s surety, Sentry Casualty Company (collectively, Defendants). Fuentes filed her complaint in July 2019, and the Defendants denied the claim. During discovery, the Defendants filed a motion to compel in October 2019, which was granted. Following no response from Fuentes, the Defendants filed a motion for sanctions, and Fuentes again did not respond. On December 19, 2019, the full Idaho Industrial Commission issued an Order Dismissing Complaint, citing Industrial Commission Judicial Rule of Procedure (JRP) 12(B). Five months later, in May 2020, Fuentes responded to the initial discovery requests and moved to retain the case on the active calendar, but her filing and motion were returned “unfiled” as explained in an email from the assigned Referee. Fuentes also moved for reconsideration of the dismissal and filed a petition to vacate the order of dismissal under JRP 15. The Commission denied both motions. The Idaho Supreme Court determined the Commission acted in excess of its powers when it misapplied JRP12(B) in the initial dismissal order, and in applying JRP 16 to Fuentes' case. Accordingly, the Court reversed the Commission’s decision to dismiss Fuentes’ case, and vacated the order. The case was remanded for further proceedings. View "Fuentes v. Cavco Industries, Inc." on Justia Law

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Progressive Northwest Insurance Company (“Progressive”) insured Dean and Laura Lautenschlager with a combined single limit policy of $500,000, which provided liability coverage, in addition to underinsured and uninsured motorist coverage. The Lautenschlagers were subsequently injured in a collision between their motorcycle, driven by Dean, and a van, driven by an underinsured motorist. Both Dean and Laura individually recovered the policy limits of $15,000 per-person from the underinsured motorist. In addition, Laura recovered a $375,000 settlement from Progressive due to Dean’s partial responsibility for the collision. Progressive then filed this lawsuit seeking a declaration that Progressive was only responsible for an additional $95,000 in underinsured motorist benefits under the policy following the various settlements. The district court granted summary judgment in Progressive’s favor, concluding that the offset provisions in the Lautenschlagers’ policy did not violate Idaho public policy and that the remaining coverage from Progressive was limited to $95,000. The Lautenschlagers appealed, arguing that the offset provisions of their insurance policy are void on public policy grounds and that the policy is ambiguous with respect to the amount of coverage offered. Finding no reversible error, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed the district court. View "Progressive Northwest Insurance Company v. Lautenschlager" on Justia Law

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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