Articles Posted in Iowa Supreme Court

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Several Iowa chiropractors brought this class-action lawsuit against Wellmark, Inc., Iowa’s largest health insurer, alleging that it conspired with competitors to fix prices, allocate markets, and engage in other anticompetitive conduct in violation of the Iowa Competition Law. The district court stayed the case pending further proceedings in federal multidistrict litigation (MDL) in Alabama brought under federal antitrust laws. The Supreme Court vacated the order staying this action, holding that the district court abused its discretion in staying the Iowa litigation pending further proceedings in the Alabama MDL because (1) resolution of the Alabama MDL could take years, and (2) there are considerable differences in the issues the two cases present. Remanded. View "Chicoine v. Wellmark, Inc." on Justia Law

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In 1986, the Iowa legislature enacted House File 2219 to provide for payment by healthcare service corporations for services performed by chiropractors. Following the Supreme Court’s decision in Mueller v. Wellmark, several Iowa-licensed chiropractors (collectively, Appellants) brought this action alleging that Wellmark, Inc. wrongfully imposes restrictions and pays lower rates for chiropractic services than for equivalent services offered by medical and osteopathic doctors in violation of Iowa Code 514F.2. The Insurance Commissioner concluded that section 514F.2 does not require health insurers to compensate the chiropractors equally with medical and osteopathic doctors in network. The district court affirmed the Commissioner’s decision. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the interpretation of section 514F.2 has not been clearly vested by a provision of law in the discretion of the Commissioner; (2) the statute regulates payments to providers; (3) Wellmark’s fees for chiropractic care are not based solely on licensure; and (4) ERISA preempts the application of section 514F.2 to self-funded health plans. View "Abbas v. Iowa Insurance Division" on Justia Law

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Insured filed a complaint challenging Insurer’s termination of workers’ compensation issuance. The insurance commissioner declined to consider the merits of the complaint on the ground that the complaint raised factual issues that could not be resolved by the agency. Insurer filed a petition for judicial review seeking a declaration that the insurance commissioner should have exercised jurisdiction over the dispute. The district court granted the commissioner’s motion to dismiss, concluding that Insurer lacked standing to litigate the issues. The Supreme Court dismissed Insurer’s appeal, holding that, under the circumstances presented and applying established caselaw, the appeal was moot. View "Auto-Owners Insurance Co. v. Iowa Insurance Division" on Justia Law

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Developers and a general contractor of an apartment complex purchased a primary commercial general liability (CGL) insurance policy from Arch Insurance Group and an excess CGL insurance policy from National Surety Corporation (NSC). Westlake Investments, LLC, which purchased the complex, sued the insureds for construction defects. Arch defended the suit on behalf of the insureds, and the parties eventually settled. Pursuant to the settlement agreement, the insureds assigned their claims against NSC on the excess CGL policy to Westlake. Thereafter, NSC initiated this declaratory judgment action seeking a declaration that it had no obligation to pay any portion of the judgment awarded to Westlake. Westlake counterclaimed for breach of contract. The district court granted partial summary judgment in favor of Westlake, concluding that property damage resulting from defective work performed by an insured’s subcontractor may constitute an accident that qualifies as an occurrence covered by the Arch policy, and therefore, the NSC policy. After a trial, the jury returned a verdict in favor of Westlake. The Supreme Court affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding that defective workmanship by an insured’s subcontractor may constitute an occurrence under the terms of the Arch policy incorporated by reference into the NSC policy. View "Nat’l Surety Corp. v. Westlake Invs., LLC" on Justia Law

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An SUV was being driven in the wrong direction on a highway when it collided with a semi-tractor-trailer. The SUV was totaled, and the SUV’s driver was killed. Second later, a motorcyclist ran into the SUV that was still in the middle of the highway. The drivers of both the semi and the motorcycle suffered injuries. The drivers jointly filed a petition for declaratory judgment against the insurer of the SUV asking the district court to declare that there had been two accidents for purposes of the insurance policy’s per-accident limit on bodily injury liability. The district court granted summary judgment for the insurer, concluding that the injuries suffered by the plaintiffs arose from one accident. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that, under the terms of the SUV driver’s insurance policy, there was only one accident. View "Hughes v. Farmers Auto. Ins. Ass’n" on Justia Law

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An SUV was being driven in the wrong direction on a highway when it collided with a semi-tractor-trailer. The SUV was totaled, and the SUV’s driver was killed. Second later, a motorcyclist ran into the SUV that was still in the middle of the highway. The drivers of both the semi and the motorcycle suffered injuries. The drivers jointly filed a petition for declaratory judgment against the insurer of the SUV asking the district court to declare that there had been two accidents for purposes of the insurance policy’s per-accident limit on bodily injury liability. The district court granted summary judgment for the insurer, concluding that the injuries suffered by the plaintiffs arose from one accident. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that, under the terms of the SUV driver’s insurance policy, there was only one accident. View "Hughes v. Farmers Auto. Ins. Ass’n" on Justia Law

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The Iowa Individual Health Benefit Reinsurance Association (“IIHBRA”), a nonprofit corporation, sued its members (“the universities”) for unpaid assessments it was statutorily obligated to collect. The universities filed a motion to dismiss the petition, arguing that the IIHBRA lacks the capacity to sue based on the 2001 amendment to Iowa Code chapter 513C. Chapter 513C initially included a provision stating that IIHBRA had the power to “sue or be sued,” but the 2001 amendment deleted that provision. Alternatively, the universities argued that the district court lacked subject matter jurisdiction because the IIHBRA is required to arbitrate under Iowa Code 679A.19. The district court granted the motion to dismiss. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the 2001 amendment to chapter 513C left intact the IIHBRA’s capacity to sue under Iowa Code chapter 504A; (2) the IIHBRA is not subject to mandatory arbitration under Iowa Code 679A.19; and (3) therefore, the IIHBRA has the capacity to sue its members in district court for unpaid assessments. View "Iowa Individual Health Benefit Reinsurance Ass’n v. Stat Univ. of Iowa" on Justia Law

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Dennis Hagenow was injured in an automobile accident with Betty Schmidt. Hagenow and his wife (Plaintiffs) filed an uninsured motorist claim with American Family Mutual Insurance Company. American Family denied the claim, determining that Schmidt’s vehicle was not an uninsured motor vehicle under Plaintiffs’ policy. Plaintiffs subsequently filed a breach of contract action against American Family. American Family moved for summary judgment, arguing (1) because Schmidt had automobile insurance at the time of the collision, she was not an uninsured motorist (UM) under the policy; and (2) Plaintiffs were not “legally entitled to recover” under the policy because a jury in Plaintiffs’ underlying action against Schmidt found Schmidt not liable for Plaintiffs’ damages. The district court denied the motion. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) Plaintiffs were not “legally entitled to recover” under Iowa law or their UM policy; and (2) Schmidt’s vehicle was not an uninsured motor vehicle under the terms of Plaintiffs’ UM provision. Remanded. View "Hagenow v. Am. Family Mut. Ins. Co." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff formed a contract with Imperial Premium Finance with regard to a financing arrangement for life insurance. Imperial later assigned its interest in the arrangement to Defendant, a limited partnership with its principal place of business in California. Plaintiff filed a petition for declaratory judgment in Iowa, claiming that the contract was not valid. The district court granted Defendant’s motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction, concluding that that contacts of Imperial, the assignor, did not impute to Defendant, the assignee. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) an assignor’s contacts with Iowa are not automatically imputed to the assignee for purposes of obtaining personal jurisdiction over the assignee, but this assignee is subject to personal jurisdiction in Iowa based on its own contacts with this forum through the contractual relationships it assumed by the assignment; and (2) Defendant in this case did have the required minimum contacts to subject Defendant to personal jurisdiction in Iowa. Remanded. View "Ostrem v. PrideCo Secure Loan Fund, LP" on Justia Law

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Plaintiff was a passenger who was injured while riding in the vehicle of his brother, who had coverage, including underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage, with Defendant. The policy contained a provision limiting the time to file an action to recover UIM benefits. Plaintiff brought this action to recover UIM benefits approximately one month after the deadline set forth in the policy. Defendant moved for summary judgment, claiming Plaintiff’s petition was untimely because he failed to file it within the policy’s two-year deadline. The district court denied the motion. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) Plaintiff, as an insured and a third-party beneficiary of the policy, did not have greater rights than the policyholder, and therefore, Plaintiff could not avoid the contractual time limitation unless the policyholder under similar circumstances would have been able to avoid it; and (2) the record did not demonstrate either that the policy’s time limit was unreasonable or that Defendant should be equitably estopped from enforcing it. Remanded for entry of summary judgment in favor of Defendant. View "Osmic v. Nationwide Agribusiness Ins. Co." on Justia Law