Justia Insurance Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Injury Law
Hollaway v. Direct Gen. Ins. Co. of Miss., Inc.
Samantha Hollaway was involved in an accident with Harry Sykes, who was insured by Direct General Insurance Company of Mississippi. Hollaway sought compensation from Direct General for both bodily and property damage. Direct General settled Hollaway’s property damage claim, but there was a breakdown of settlement negotiations with respect to Hollaway’s bodily injury claim. Hollaway filed suit, asserting a third-party bad faith claim against Direct General under the Kentucky Unfair Claims Settlement Practices Act. The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of Direct General, finding that liability and causation were legitimately disputed, and therefore, Direct General could not have acted in bad faith as a matter of law. The Court of Appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Hollaway failed to make a colorable third-party bad-faith claim and, therefore, summary judgment in favor of Direct General was appropriate. View "Hollaway v. Direct Gen. Ins. Co. of Miss., Inc." on Justia Law
Kenney v. Foremost Insurance Co.
Sharel Kenney appealed the trial court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of USAA Casualty Insurance Company (USAA-CIC) and Foremost Insurance Company (Foremost). Kenney purchased a motorcycle in Slidell, Louisiana. Kenney, a Louisiana resident, completed a Louisiana Motorcycle Insurance Application with Foremost, which included an Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Bodily Injury Coverage Form (“UMBI Form”). Pursuant to the Form, Kenney elected not to purchase UMBI coverage. Following receipt of the application and the UMBI Form, Foremost issued a policy to Kenney. Daniel Steilberg, Kenney’s fiancé, was listed as an operator on the insurance policy. While riding the motorcycle, Kenney and Steilberg were involved in an accident with an uninsured motorist on Highway I-90 in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. After the accident, Kenney made claims for uninsured-motorist coverage under three separate policies. Kenney did receive payments from Foremost representing the actual cash value for property damage to the motorcycle. Kenney also filed a claim with USAA-CIC, the insurer for Kenney’s Dodge Charger, but she was denied payment for medical expenses and uninsured/underinsured-motorist coverage. After the denials of coverage, Kenney filed suit against the uninsured motorise, Foremost, USAA-CIC and Steilberg, Finding that the trial court erred in granting summary judgment as to Foremost but not as to USAA-CIC, the Supreme Court affirmed the trial court in part and reversed and remanded in part. View "Kenney v. Foremost Insurance Co." on Justia Law
Bayer v. Panduit Corp.
Bayer, an ironworker with Area Erectors, which was hired by Garbe to build Panduit’s warehouse facilities, fell and is now quadriplegic. Bayer filed a claim against Area under the Workers’ Compensation Act (820 ILCS 305/1). Area began making temporary total disability payments and payments for Bayer’s medical expenses. Bayer also sued Panduit, Garbe, and a structural engineering company for negligence. Panduit and Garbe sued Area under the Joint Tortfeasor Contribution Act (740 ILCS 100/0.01). Bayer's settlement with Area was approved, so Area was discharged from contribution liability. Other claims were resolved, leaving only Bayer’s action for negligence against Panduit. Judgment ($64 million) was entered in Bayer’s favor. Under the Workers’ Compensation Act (820 ILCS 305/5(b)), Area was entitled to recover out of that judgment the amount of compensation it paid or would pay to Bayer, including amounts paid or to be paid under the Act for medical expenses, vocational rehabilitation, and temporary partial disability benefits. The court suspended future workers’ compensation payments. The Act provides that where, “the services of an attorney at law of the employee . . . have . . . substantially contributed to the procurement ... of the proceeds out of which the employer is reimbursed, then, in the absence of other agreement, the employer shall pay such attorney 25% of the gross amount of such reimbursement,” 820 ILCS 305/5(b), so Bayer’s lawyers were entitled to fees equal to 25% of the amount Area had paid for lost wages, medical expenses, and other compensable items before payments were suspended. Building on its 1990 holding that the gross amount of reimbursement subject to attorney fees includes both benefits paid before the third-party recovery and the amount of such benefits the employer will be relieved from paying in the future by reason of the third-party action, the Illinois Supreme Court held that the value of future medical care should be included in this calculation. View "Bayer v. Panduit Corp." on Justia Law
Mills v. AAA Northern CA, NV and Utah Ins. Exch.
Defendant insurance company denied uninsured motorist coverage to a third party beneficiary injured in an automobile accident because it had cancelled the policy before the accident occurred. The third party sued, and the insurer sought summary judgment. The third party opposed, contending the cancellation was invalid because a written notice seeking information sent by the insurer to the insureds prior to cancellation was unreasonable as a matter of law, and disputed facts existed as to whether the insurer had mailed the notice of cancellation and actually cancelled the policy. The trial court granted summary judgment, and finding no error, the Court of Appeal affirmed. View "Mills v. AAA Northern CA, NV and Utah Ins. Exch." on Justia Law
In Re Viking Pump, Inc. and Warren Pumps, LLC Insurance Appeals
Viking Pump, Inc. and Warren Pumps, LLC sought to recover under insurance policies issued to a third company, Houdaille Industries, Inc. In the 1980's, Viking and Warren acquired pump manufacturing businesses from Houdaille. As a result, Viking and Warren were confronted with potential liability flowing from personal injury claims made by plaintiffs alleging damages in connection with asbestos exposure claims dating back to when the pump manufacturing businesses were owned by Houdaille. Houdaille had purchased occurrence-based primary and umbrella insurance from Liberty Mutual Insurance Company. Above the Liberty umbrella layer, Houdaille purchased layers of excess insurance. In total, Houdaille purchased 35 excess policies through 20 different carriers (the "Excess Policies"). Viking and Warren sought to fund the liabilities arising from the Houdaille-Era Claims using the comprehensive insurance program originally purchased by Houdaille. The insurance companies that issued the Excess Policies (the "Excess Insurers") contended that Viking and Warren were not entitled to use the Excess Policies to respond to the claims. The Excess Insurers also disputed the extent of any coverage available, particularly with respect to defense costs. The Supreme Court held, after careful consideration of the policies at issue: (1) the Superior Court correctly held that the 1980-1985 Liberty Primary Policies were exhausted; (2) the Superior Court held that 33 of the Excess Policies at issue in this appeal provided coverage to Viking and Warren for their defense costs, with many payments contingent on insurer consent; (3) the Court of Chancery correctly held that there were valid assignments of insurance rights to Warren and Viking under the Excess Policies; (4) the Superior Court was affirmed in part and reversed in part with respect to its determination of the Excess Policies' coverage for defense costs; and (5) the Superior Court erred with respect to the trigger of coverage under the Excess Policies. View "In Re Viking Pump, Inc. and Warren Pumps, LLC Insurance Appeals" on Justia Law
Turner House v. Treasure Valley Area of Narcotics Anonymous
Donna Simono attended a meeting hosted by Treasure Valley Area of Narcotics Anonymous (“TVNA”) at the Turner House in Mountain Home. When leaving the meeting, she fell down the stairs and injured her ankles. Simono brought a negligence action against Turner House, Larry Rodgers, and Cheryl Baker (collectively “Turner House”). Turner House filed a third-party complaint against TVNA, alleging that TVNA was responsible for maintaining the area where Simono fell. Turner House also sought indemnification for Simono’s claims. The jury returned a verdict finding neither Turner House nor TVNA negligent, and the district court entered judgment dismissing Simono’s complaint and Turner House’s third-party complaint. TVNA filed a motion seeking attorney fees against Turner House under Idaho Code section 12-120(3). The district court denied the motion for fees, concluding that the lawsuit was not based on a commercial transaction. TVNA appealed the district court’s denial of its motion for fees. Both TVNA and Turner House sought attorney fees on appeal. Finding that the district court erred in concluding that TVNA was not entitled to attorney fees, the Supreme Court reversed. Fees and costs on appeal were awarded to TVNA. View "Turner House v. Treasure Valley Area of Narcotics Anonymous" on Justia Law
Arceneaux v Amstar Corp.
The issue this case presented for the Louisiana Supreme Court's review was whether the duty to defend in long latency disease cases could be prorated between an insurer and its insured when occurrence-based policies provide coverage for only a portion of the time during which exposure occurred. In the underlying Arceneaux suit, plaintiffs alleged that they suffered hearing loss from exposure to unreasonably loud noise in the course of their work at American Sugar’s refinery in Arabi, Louisiana. Two sets of plaintiffs, the Barbe plaintiffs and the Waguespack plaintiffs, filed suit against American Sugar in 2006. These suits were consolidated with the Arceneaux action, which was filed in 1999 against American Sugar’s predecessor, Tate & Lyle North American Sugars, Inc. This opinion concerned only the Barbe and Waguespack plaintiffs, and not the Arceneaux plaintiffs whose claims had been litigated extensively in the trial court, the court of appeal, and the Louisiana Supreme Court. Continental Casualty Company argued that defense costs should have been prorated among insurers and the insured if there were periods of non-coverage. American Sugar Refining, Inc. claimed that the duty to defend as agreed upon in the policy provided for a complete defense so long as the duty to defend attached, even if some claims fell outside of coverage. The Supreme Court held that the duty to defend should have been prorated in this case based upon policy language. View "Arceneaux v Amstar Corp." on Justia Law
Black v. Dixie Consumer Prods., LLC
Black drove a truck for Western, one of 48 freight service providers that carry raw paper to Dixie’s Bowling Green factory. Black parked the truck, containing 41,214 pounds of pulpboard rolls, separated by 10-lb. rubber mats. Black received permission from Chinn, the Dixie forklift operator, to enter the loading dock. It was “[c]ommon practice” for the truck driver to unload the rubber mats so that the Dixie forklift operator did not “have to get off each time.” Chinn and Black got “into a rhythm” in unloading the materials until Chinn ran over Black’s foot with the forklift, leading to a below-the-knee amputation of Black’s leg. Black received workers’ compensation from Western, then filed a tort action against Dixie, seeking $1,850,000. Following a remand, the district court denied Dixie summary judgment. The Sixth Circuit reversed, holding that the Kentucky Workers’ Compensation Act barred Black’s claims, Ky. Rev. Stat. 342.610(2), .690. The work Black was doing as part and parcel of what Dixie does; a worker injured in this setting will receive compensation regardless of fault by a company in Dixie’s shoes or one in Western’s shoes. The immunity from a further lawsuit applies as well. This burden and benefit are the trade-offs built into any workers’ compensation system. View "Black v. Dixie Consumer Prods., LLC" on Justia Law
Countryway Ins. Co. v. United Financial Casualty Ins. Co.
At issue in this case was the apportionment of damages between two insurance companies who provided underinsured motorist (UM) coverave to a passenger injured in an automobile accident in Bowling Green. The Circuit Court ordered the companies to share the damages pro rata in proportion to their respective policy limits. Countryway Insurance appealed that decision to the Court of Appeals, contending that the damages should not have been divided at all, but should have been apportioned entirely to United Financial, the insurer of the accident vehicle. To Countryway's dismay, the Court of Appeals panel decided that that argument was "half right:" the Court agreed that the damages should not have been divided, but in its view Countryway, the insurer of the injured passenger, bore full responsibility for the passenger's UM claim. The Supreme Court concluded the Court of Appeals erred in its analysis of the controlling case-law applicable to this matter, reversed and remanded to the Circuit Court for entry of an appropriate order in favor of Countryway. View "Countryway Ins. Co. v. United Financial Casualty Ins. Co." on Justia Law
Edens v. Netherlands Insurance
Zachery Edens was killed in when an oncoming car turned in front of his motorcycle. David Edens, Zachery's father and the Chief Executive Officer of Edens Structural Solutions LLC (Edens LLC), and Rhonda Edens, Zachery's mother, sent a demand letter to The Netherlands Insurance Company, claiming that Zachery was an insured under Edens LLC’s Netherlands insurance policy and demanding $1,000,000 in underinsured motorist benefits. After Netherlands denied coverage, David, Rhonda, and Edens LLC sued Netherlands. On summary judgment, the district court concluded that David was an insured under the policy because he was an executive officer of Edens LLC, and that Zachery was an insured as David's family member. Despite this, because David and Rhonda Edens owned Zachery's motorcycle, the district court concluded that the Netherlands policy didn’t cover his accident. David, Rhonda and Edens LLC appealed, arguing, among other things, that the policy’s coverage terms were ambiguous and should be construed in their favor. Finding no reversible error in the district court's judgment, the Tenth Circuit affirmed. View "Edens v. Netherlands Insurance" on Justia Law