Justia Insurance Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Kansas Supreme Court
Williams v. Geico General Insurance Co.
The Supreme Court reinstated the district court's award granting Plaintiff substitution benefits after a court of appeals panel held that married persons cannot be a provider or recipient of substitution services to each other, holding that Plaintiff was entitled to substitution benefits for the amount he promised to pay his wife for what she did resulting from Plaintiff's automobile accident.Insurer insured Plaintiff when he was injured in an automobile accident. When Plaintiff returned from the rehabilitation hospital, he and his wife agreed she would provide caregiver services for $25 a day. Plaintiff sought payment for personal injury protection (PIP) substitution benefits available to him under his policy, but Insurer refused. Litigation ensued, and the district court granted judgment for Plaintiff. The court of appeals reversed, concluding that an injured person's spouse is excluded from providing substitution services. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) Kan. Stat. Ann. 40-3103(w) does not expressly preclude Plaintiff's wife from providing substitution services simply because of her marital relationship with Plaintiff; (2) Plaintiff incurred an obligation to pay his wife by entering into a contract with her to perform specific services for him that she would not otherwise have performed while Plaintiff convalesced; and (3) Plaintiff was entitled to PIP substitution benefits. View "Williams v. Geico General Insurance Co." on Justia Law
Geer v. Eby
The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the district court’s garnishment order in favor of a judgment creditor and her insurer, holding that the insurer demonstrated prejudice as a matter of law from its lack of notice of suit.The policy in this case contained a requirement that the insured inform the insurer of a lawsuit arising out of an otherwise covered automobile accident. After the judgment creditor and her insurer obtained the garnishment order, the court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the stipulated facts established that the insured breached his notice-of-suit duty under the insurance policy and that the insurer was prejudiced by that breach. View "Geer v. Eby" on Justia Law
Becker v. Bar Plan Mutual Insurance Co.
The Supreme Court reversed the decision of the Court of Appeals affirming the decision of the district court granting summary judgment to The Bar Plan Mutual Insurance Company on Daniel Becker’s insurance coverage dispute with the company, holding that the lower courts erroneously relied upon certain caselaw in granting summary judgment and that, under the correct caselaw, questions of fact remained that were inappropriate for summary judgment.Specifically, the Court held (1) the lower courts erred in relying on the “expansion of coverage” rule in concluding that Becker was asking for the coverage to be expanded beyond the insurance contract’s terms and that that courts should instead have continued their analysis to see if estoppel was appropriate to apply to the facts under the “reservation of rights” rule; and (2) because several genuine issues of material fact remained on the issue of estoppel, this case must be remanded for further proceedings. View "Becker v. Bar Plan Mutual Insurance Co." on Justia Law
McCullough v. Wilson
The Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the court of appeals affirming the judgment of the district court ordering Devin Wilson to pay Kenneth Risley a jury award in favor of Risley, holding that the district court did not err in determining that the assignment provision in Kan. Stat. Ann. 40-3113a(c) did not divest Risley of the right to recover his medical expenses from the tortfeasor.A jury found Wilson liable in tort for injuring Risley in an automobile accident and awarded Risley the cost of his medical expenses in addition to other compensation. Risley had previously been paid for his medical expenses under the personal injury protection (PIP) coverage of his automobile insurance policy. The jury entered judgment on the entire amount of damages as awarded by the jury. On appeal, Wilson argued that Risley had no right to sue for the medical expenses because the cause of action for those medical expenses had been statutorily assigned pursuant to section 40-3113a(c) to Risley’s PIP insurance carrier. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that Risley was entitled to the full damages as awarded by the jury, including any medical expenses that were duplicative of the PIP benefits Risley received from his PIP insurance carrier. View "McCullough v. Wilson" on Justia Law
Nationwide Mut. Ins. Co. v. Briggs
Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company issued an automobile insurance policy, which included uninsured motorist coverage, to Melvin Briggs. After Nationwide sent Briggs a notice of nonrenewal of the policy, Briggs was involved in a collision with an uninsured motorist. Briggs's children filed a claim under the Nationwide policy for uninsured motorist benefits, which Nationwide denied. Nationwide subsequently sued Briggs’s children, seeking a declaratory judgment that it had nonrenewed Briggs’s policy before the automobile accident. The U.S. district court granted summary judgment for Nationwide, concluding that it had complied with statutory and policy requirements for notice of nonrenewal. On appeal, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals certified a question of law to the Kansas Supreme Court, which answered the certified question as follows: Notice to nonrenew an insurance policy that complies with the procedure set out in Kan. Stat. Ann. 40-3118(b) and a consistent provision in the policy itself is sufficient to force a lapse of coverage, regardless of whether a proper substantive basis for nonrenewal exists under Kan. Stat. Ann. 40-276a(a) and consistent policy language. View "Nationwide Mut. Ins. Co. v. Briggs" on Justia Law
Bussman v. Safeco Ins. Co. of Am.
While driving a vehicle owned by her employer (Employer), Appellant was injured in an accident caused by an underinsured motorist. Appellant claimed underinsured motorist (UIM) benefits under Employer’s commercial insurance package policy, which Appellant believed had been insured by Insurer, the same carrier that insured the tortfeasor. Insurer denied Appellant’s claim. A jury awarded Appellant damages, finding the tortfeasor at fault. The district court denied Insurer’s posttrial motion for judgment based upon its claim that it did not issue Employer’s insurance policy and granted Insurer’s motion for credit against the verdict in part, declining, however, to give Insurer credit for future medical expenses. The Supreme Court (1) affirmed the trial court’s denial of Insurer’s motion for judgment as a matter of law on Insurer’s claim that Appellant named the wrong insurance company as the defendant; (2) reversed the district court’s decision on Insurer’s motion for partial summary judgment on future medical expenses and vacated the jury’s award of future medical expenses; and (3) reversed the district court’s denial of Appellant’s motion for attorney fees. Remanded. View "Bussman v. Safeco Ins. Co. of Am. " on Justia Law
Cont’l W. Ins. Co. v. Shultz
After Employee was injured in a car accident with a police officer, Employer's workers compensation carrier (Claimant) sought to bring this tort action against City. Claimant gave notice to City that it was pursuing a negligence claim against it, claiming damages in the amount of $19,590. Claimant then brought a lawsuit in the district court, requesting $19,590 in damages. Several months later, Claimant sought leave to amend its petition to raise the amount of alleged damages to $228,088. City objected, arguing that Claimant's notice did not include "a statement of the amount of monetary damages that is being requested" as required under Kan. Stat. Ann. 12-105b(d)(5). The district court granted Claimant's petition, finding that Claimant's statutory notice substantially complied with 12-105b(d). A divided court of appeals affirmed the district court's ruling that the notice was in substantial compliance with the law. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) under the circumstances, Claimant's notice substantially complied with 12-105b(d), as the notice contained all the information required by the statute; and (2) when a notice conforms with section 12-105b(d), subsequent amendments to the pleadings are subject to an inquiry into a claimant's bad faith or misleading conduct. View "Cont'l W. Ins. Co. v. Shultz" on Justia Law
Snider v. Am. Family Mut. Ins. Co.
Plaintiff filed a claim with his Insurer under his policy for stolen tools and equipment, which Insurer denied. Plaintiff sued. The district court granted summary judgment for Insurer. The court of appeals reversed and remanded for entry of judgment for Plaintiff. On remand, Plaintiff requested and received attorney fees related to both the district court and the appellate proceedings. The court of appeals reversed the award of appellate attorney fees, concluding Plaintiff had waived his right to appellate fees by not filing a motion for attorney fees with the court of appeals in the prior appeal. Petitioner filed a motion requesting appellate attorney fees for his second appeal in Snider II. The court of appeals awarded additional appellate attorney fees. Plaintiff appealed, requesting a judgment for the appellate attorney fees incurred in Snider I and an award of additional fees for the appeal in Snider II. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the court of appeals (1) correctly applied Supreme Court Rule 7.07(b), Evans v. Provident Life & Accident Ins. Co., and Kan. Stat. Ann. 40-908; and (2) did not err in determining the amount of reasonable attorney fees related this current appeal. View "Snider v. Am. Family Mut. Ins. Co." on Justia Law
Douglas v. Ad Astra Info. Sys., LLC
The Workers Compensation Board awarded Plaintiff benefits under the Workers Compensation Act for an injury he sustained while operating a go-cart at an event sponsored by his employer (Employer). Employer and its insurance carrier (Insurer) appealed the award, claiming that Plaintiff's injuries were not compensable because they were sustained during a recreational or social event that Plaintiff was not required to attend. The court of appeals affirmed the Board. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the Board applied the incorrect legal standard in determining whether Plaintiff's injuries arose out of and in the course of his employment, and the error was not harmless. Remanded to the Board to make the determination based on the statutory criteria of Kan. Stat. Ann. 44-508(f). View "Douglas v. Ad Astra Info. Sys., LLC" on Justia Law
In re Marriage of Hall
This appeal raised the issue of whether a district court can order a child support obligor to cooperate with a child support obligee in the obligee's efforts to obtain insurance on the obligor's life if the obligor objects to the issuance of the life insurance policy. Here, despite the obligor's objection, the district court ordered the obligor to cooperate with the obligee's attempts to obtain insurance on the obligor's life at the obligee's own expense. The court of appeals affirmed. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that a district court cannot issue such an order because the order would be contrary to public policy as expressed by the Kansas Legislature in Kan. Stat. Ann. 40-453(a), which provides that an insurable interest does not exist if a person whose life is insured makes a written request for the termination or nonrenewal of the policy. View "In re Marriage of Hall" on Justia Law