Justia Insurance Law Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Maine Supreme Judicial Court
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The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the judgment of the superior court dismissing for failure to state a claim Corinth Pellets, LLC's complaint alleging that a fire loss at Corinth's wood pellet mill was covered under a commercial property insurance policy issued by Arch, holding that the superior court erred in its interpretation of Maine's surplus lines insurance law, Me. Rev. Stat. 24-A, 2009-A.On appeal, Corinth argued that the fire loss was covered under the policy, despite having occurred after the policy term had expired, because Arch failed notify Corinth of its intention not to renew the policy as required by section 2009-A, and therefore, the policy was automatically renewed at the end of the term. The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the judgment, holding that section 2009-A(1) requires a surplus lines insurer to give written notice of its intent either to cancel a policy or not to renew a policy at least fourteen days before the effective date of cancellation or nonrenewal. View "Corinth Pellets, LLC v. Arch Specialty Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the summary judgment entered by the superior court in favor of Concord General Mutual Insurance Company on Arthur Bibeau's complaint for alleged breaches and violations of the homeowner's insurance policy issued to him by Concord, holding that the policy did not unambiguously exclude from coverage losses caused by earth movement.Bibeau insured his home through a policy issued to him by Concord. Bibeau submitted a notice of claim to Concord alleging that his home was damaged by a water line leak that pushed sand and other material under the foundation of his home. Concord denied the claim based on the policy's earth movement exclusion and its anti-concurrent-causation clause. Bibeau then brought this action. The superior court granted summary judgment for Concord on all counts. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that the superior court did not err in determining that the policy was unambiguous and that Bibeau's losses were excluded from coverage pursuant to the earth movement exclusion. View "Bibeau v. Concord General Mutual Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the decision of the superior court entering summary judgment in favor of State Farm Fire and Casualty Company on the complaint filed by Plaintiffs seeking to reach and apply the State Farm vehicle insurance coverage of a man found jointly and severally liable to Plaintiffs for damages, holding that the facts did not bring Plaintiffs' damages within the policy's coverage.Grover Bragg was driving a truck insured by State Farm to transport an intoxicated and delusional friend when the friend jumped out of the truck, broke into Plaintiffs' house, damaged property, and assaulted one of the plaintiffs. Plaintiffs brought a complaint against Bragg, alleging negligence, and against Bragg's friend. The court concluded that Bragg and his friend were jointly and severally liable to Plaintiffs and awarded damages. The Supreme Court affirmed. Plaintiffs then commenced the present action seeking to reach and apply Bragg's vehicle insurance policy and to obtain a declaratory judgment that the coverage applied. The court entered summary judgment for State Farm. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the injuries and property damage suffered by Plaintiffs were not causally connected to the vehicle use in a way that brought them within the insurance coverage. View "Haskell v. State Farm Fire & Casualty Co." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court granting Progressive Casualty Insurance Company's motion for summary judgment and denying National Wrecker, Inc.'s (NWI) summary judgment motion, holding that a judgment obtained by NWI against Fred Muluya, Progressive's insured, was not covered by Muluya's automobile insurance contract.After an accident involving Muluya's truck NWI filed a complaint against Muluya seeking payment of its invoice for towing fees, storage fees, and costs associated with clean-up of the accident. The superior court awarded NWI $26,540 in total damages. Muluya carried a commercial auto insurance policy with Progressive. NWI filed a claim against Progressive seeking recovery of the judgment it obtained against Muluya. The superior court granted Progressive's motion for summary judgment, concluding that the policy did not cover NWI's judgment. The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed, holding that Progressive was entitled to judgment as a matter of law because NWI did not establish that its judgment against Muluya was for covered damage. View "National Wrecker, Inc. v. Progressive Casualty Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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At issue was the availability of homeowner’s liability insurance coverage for damages resulting from injuries Jonathan Ben-Ami received after Joshua Francoeur, a fellow high-school student, punched Ben-Ami a number of times in the face.Francoeur was the son of the named insured under a policy issued by Vermont Mutual Insurance Company. The superior court entered a declaratory judgment determining that Francoeur’s tortious conduct did not fall within a policy exclusion from coverage for bodily injury that is “expected or intended,” and therefore, that Ben-Ami was entitled to indemnification under the policy. The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the judgment and remanded for entry of judgment for Vermont Mutual, holding that Francoeur’s specific conduct established that the damages he inflicted on Ben-Ami were “expected” and therefore excluded from coverage by the Vermont Mutual policy. View "Vermont Mutual Insurance Co. v. Ben-Ami" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the judgment of the superior court entering summary judgment in favor of Curtis Frye, Daryl Frye, and the Estate of Carroll Frye (collectively, the Estate) on the Estate’s action seeking enforcement of a property insurance contract for the loss of a dwelling by fire. The Court held that the trial court erred by interpreting Carroll’s insurance contract with MMG Insurance Company as providing coverage to the Estate because when the fire occurred, several weeks after Carroll’s death, none of the parties was both insured by MMG and in possession of an insurable interest. Therefore, Me. Rev. Stat. 24-A, 2406 preluded enforcement of the policy as to the dwelling as a matter of law. The Court remanded the case for entry of a summary judgment in favor of MMG. View "Estate of Carroll G. Frye v. MMG Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court vacated the judgment of the superior court entering summary judgment in favor of Curtis Frye, Daryl Frye, and the Estate of Carroll Frye (collectively, the Estate) on the Estate’s action seeking enforcement of a property insurance contract for the loss of a dwelling by fire. The Court held that the trial court erred by interpreting Carroll’s insurance contract with MMG Insurance Company as providing coverage to the Estate because when the fire occurred, several weeks after Carroll’s death, none of the parties was both insured by MMG and in possession of an insurable interest. Therefore, Me. Rev. Stat. 24-A, 2406 preluded enforcement of the policy as to the dwelling as a matter of law. The Court remanded the case for entry of a summary judgment in favor of MMG. View "Estate of Carroll G. Frye v. MMG Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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Parents Theresa Allocca and Timothy Allen Davison, filed this action in their individual capacities, and Davison also filed as personal representative of the Estate of Timothy "Asti" Davison. Asti was fatally shot while operating a vehicle that an assailant, operating another vehicle, had forced onto a median on an interstate highway. The Parents sought uninsured motorist (UM) benefits based on several automobile insurance policies issued by defendants York Insurance Company of Maine, Allstate Insurance Company, and Horace Mann Teachers Insurance Company. The Superior Court granted summary judgment in favor of the insurers, concluding that neither any of the policies nor Maine’s UM statute provided coverage for the loss associated with Asti’s death. The Maine Supreme Court affirmed: "[a]lthough the conduct of the person who killed Asti was indisputably deliberate and not accidental, there is no evidence in the record that it was foreseeable to Asti himself, and so, based on that approach, his death would be viewed as 'accidental.' ... describing an intentional act, such as an intentional killing, as an 'accident' stretches the plain meaning of that word too far." Without addressing the superior court’s conclusion that the UM coverage in the policies was not applicable because the loss did not arise from the "use" of a motor vehicle, the Supreme Court concluded as a matter of law that Asti’s death was not caused by an "accident." View "Allocca. v. York Insurance Company of Maine" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court granting summary judgment in favor of North East Insurance Company on the reach and apply action Richardie Kelley brought pursuant to Me. Rev. Stat. 24-A, 2904. The superior court concluded that the damages awarded to Kelley in the underlying action were based on a claim that did not fall within the scope of the North East automobile insurance policy. The Supreme Judicial Court agreed, holding Kelley failed to carry her burden of showing the damages she was awarded in the underlying action were based on a claim that fell within the scope of the North East policy. View "Kelley v. North East Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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The Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the judgment of the superior court finding that the tortfeasor who injured Appellants in a motor vehicle accident was not an underinsured driver pursuant to Maine’s underinsured motorist (UM) statute, and therefore, there was no gap in coverage requiring State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company to pay UM benefits under two policies issued to Appellants. The court held that because Appellants recovered far more from the tortfeasor’s insurers than the maximum amount of UM coverage provided by the State Farm policies, they surpassed the same recovery that would have been available had the tortfeasor been insured to the same extent. Therefore, there was no UM gap that State Farm was responsible to cover. View "Wallace v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co." on Justia Law