Justia Insurance Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Real Estate Law
Najah v. Scottsdale Ins. Co.
Plaintiffs filed suit against Scottsdale for breach of its insurance contract and tortious breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing. At issue was whether plaintiffs can pursue a claim for preforeclosure damage to the property at issue deliberately caused by the purchaser under an insurance policy issued by Scottsdale containing a mortgage coverage provision. The court concluded that plaintiffs' full faith and credit bid at the foreclosure sale under the second deed of trust precluded them from making a claim on the insurance proceeds. Further, the trial court did not abuse its discretion in finding that a defense offer to compromise under Code of Civil Procedure section 998 was reasonable. Accordingly, the court affirmed the judgment of the trial court.View "Najah v. Scottsdale Ins. Co." on Justia Law
SFI Ltd. Partnership 8 v. Carroll
SFI Ltd. Partnership 8 (SFI) owned an apartment complex containing approximately 200 apartments. Through its agent, SFI leased an apartment to Michelle Carroll. The lease included provisions requiring Carroll to pay for repairs caused by her use of the unit and to maintain renter’s insurance including “a personal liability coverage to a minimum of $100,000.00.” A fire occurred in the apartment rented to Carroll. Both the apartment and the surrounding building were damaged. SFI had $10 million of total insurance coverage on the apartment complex. The policy provided for a deductible of $250,000 per occurrence unless a specific deductible applied. The parties stipulated that SFI sustained damages in excess of $100,000 resulting from the fire, which damages were not covered by its insurance policy. But neither the total amount of damages nor the amount of any insurance recovery by SFI was included in the evidence. Carroll had renter’s insurance in place at that time, and she submitted a claim to her insurer. Carroll’s insurer paid her $1,500, representing only her damages under “Loss of Use Coverage.” In previous cases, the Nebraska Supreme Court applied an antisubrogation rule to prohibit a landlord’s insurer from seeking reimbursement from the tenant of fire losses paid by insurance. In this appeal, the Court declined to extend the antisubrogation rule to a landlord’s uninsured losses allegedly caused by its tenant’s negligence. Therefore the Court reversed the district court’s summary judgment in favor of the tenant. The case was remanded for further proceedings.View "SFI Ltd. Partnership 8 v. Carroll" on Justia Law
Meadow Brook, LLP v. First Am. Title Ins. Co.
Meadow Brook owned land that it developed into lots with covenants, conditions, and restrictions. Meadow Brook then decided to develop an undeveloped tract as an independent subdivision. The existing homeowners, however, argued that the covenants granted them exclusive use of three roads that future homeowners would need to use to access the subdivision. A court concluded that the covenants did not reserve an easement over the three roads for use by future lot owners. First American Title Insurance Company and First American Title Company of Montana (collectively, First American), which had issued Meadow Brook a title insurance policy, subsequently denied Meadow Brook’s claim for coverage and refused to further defend against the homeowners’ counterclaims. Meadow Brook settled with the homeowners in the easement litigation and then sued First American for, inter alia, breach of contract and negligence. The district court granted summary judgment to Meadow Brook as to the breach of contract claim, concluding First American had insured under the policy that the three roads would be open to public access. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the district court did not err in granting Meadow Brook’s motion for partial summary judgment on the breach of contract claim. View "Meadow Brook, LLP v. First Am. Title Ins. Co." on Justia Law
Bank of Idaho v. First American Title
In January 2007, the Bank of Idaho made two construction loans to developers who planned to construct a fourplex on each of two adjoining lots in Idaho Falls. The bank loaned one sum of money to build a fourplex on Lot 1 and another sum for a fourplex on Lot 2. The bank secured a separate policy of title insurance for each lot that was issued by the predecessor of First American Title Insurance Company. Each policy included an endorsement that the parties understood would insure against loss or damage that the bank might sustain by reason of a multifamily residence not being constructed on the lot. After discussion with representatives of the city, the developers changed their original plans and built both fourplexes on Lot 2 and built a parking lot with storm water retention and landscaping on Lot 1. The developers later defaulted on their loans, and the bank foreclosed on both deeds of trust. At the foreclosure sale, the bank acquired each lot by making a full credit bid on all amounts due and owing on the note secured by the deed of trust. In 2010, the bank submitted a claim under the title policy issue with respect to Lot 1 to recover under the endorsement. The insurance company rejected the claim and the bank filed suit to recover under the policy. The district court granted the insurance company’s motion for summary judgment and dismissed this action. The bank then appealed. The Supreme Court concluded after its review that the district court erred in holding that the title insurance company had no liability under the policy. The endorsement provided that "[t]he Company hereby insures the owner of the indebtedness secured by the insured mortgage against loss or damage which the insured shall sustain by reason of the failure of [a multifamily residence to be built on Lot 1]." The endorsement insured against "loss or damage" that the bank argued was the failure of the multifamily residence to be constructed on the lot. It did not define what constituted "loss or damage." Subsections of the pertinent indemnity clause stated limits on the insurance company's liability, but it did not define loss or damage. Accordingly, the district court was reversed and the case remanded for further proceedings. View "Bank of Idaho v. First American Title" on Justia Law
Porter v. Oklahoma Farm Bureau Mutual Ins. Co.
On November 14, 2009, sewage entered into and damaged the home of plaintiffs Justin and Brandy Porter. At the time, Plaintiffs' home was insured by defendant Oklahoma Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Company under a "Homeowners Special Coverage Policy." Plaintiffs filed a claim for their loss, which defendant denied. Subsequently, plaintiffs filed a petition in the district court for breach of contract and breach of the duty of good faith and fair dealing. Plaintiffs argued that the district court should follow "Andres v. Oklahoma Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Co.," (227 P.3d 1102, cert. denied, (Nov. 23, 2009)) to find that the policy was ambiguous because it contained conflicting provisions on loss caused by water damage and that the doctrine of reasonable expectations required the ambiguity to be construed in favor of coverage. Plaintiffs also argued that defendant committed bad faith when defendant wrote a policy that both includes and excludes a named peril and then denied plaintiffs coverage under the policy. Plaintiffs amended their petition to bring classwide claims on behalf of others similarly situated. Plaintiffs amended their petition a second time to allege "breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing and/or fraud," individually and classwide. Plaintiffs' motion for leave to file a second amended petition did not address an individual or class-action fraud claim. Defendant moved to dismiss the class-action claims and the fraud claim for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Defendant subsequently stated that the motion to dismiss "[did] not address any other claims" and that "a dispositive motion challenging the merits of Plaintiffs' individual breach of contract and bad faith claims [would] likely be filed in the future." The district court, however, dismissed all claims. The issue before the Supreme Court on appeal was whether the district court erred in granting defendant's motion to dismiss. The resolution of this issue turned on two questions: (1) whether plaintiffs' homeowners policy was ambiguous when the policy covers loss to personal property "caused by . . . accidental discharge or overflow of water from within a plumbing . . . system" (the accidental-discharge-coverage provision) and excluded coverage for loss to real and personal property "resulting directly or indirectly from . . . water which backs up through sewers or drains" (the sewer-or-drain-backup exclusion); (2) if the policy was ambiguous, whether the doctrine of reasonable expectations required the ambiguity to be construed in favor of coverage. The Supreme Court found the district court erred in dismissing the petition in its entirety when the allegations taken as true stated a claim for breach of contract. View "Porter v. Oklahoma Farm Bureau Mutual Ins. Co." on Justia Law
R.I. Joint Reinsurance Ass’n v. Santana-Sosa
The Rhode Island Joint Reinsurance Association brought an interpleader action against multiple defendants for the purpose of determining the proper disposition of insurance proceeds. Bank of America, N.A. (BANA), one of the defendants, moved for summary judgment on the interpleader claim and against defendant Genoveva Santana-Sosa’s cross-claim. The superior court granted summary judgment for BANA, concluding that BANA was entitled to the entire amount of the insurance proceeds and that Santana-Sosa was entitled to none of the disputed funds. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that BANA was entitled to judgment as a matter of law.View "R.I. Joint Reinsurance Ass’n v. Santana-Sosa" on Justia Law
R.I. Joint Reinsurance Ass’n v. O’Sullivan
At issue in this case was which party was entitled to insurance funds under an insurance policy on a parcel of property that sustained water damage. Stanley Gurnick and Phoenix-Gurnick, RIGP claimed they owned the property as a result of a foreclosure sale. Navigant Credit Union claimed it was entitled to the funds as the named mortgagee/loss payee in the insurance policy. The superior court decided that Navigant was entitled to the insurance proceeds because the funds were personal property under the insurance contract and Navigant was named a loss payee under that contract. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the hearing justice correctly determined that Navigant was entitled to the insurance proceeds.View "R.I. Joint Reinsurance Ass’n v. O’Sullivan" on Justia Law