Justia Insurance Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Supreme Court of Ohio
Stolz v. J & B Steel Erectors, Inc.
The Supreme Court answered a certified question from the Unitde States District Court by holding that Ohio Rev. Code 4123.35(O) is not unconstitutional as applied to the tort claims of an enrolled subcontractor’s employee who is injured while working on a self-insured construction project and whose injury is compensable under Ohio’s workers’ compensation laws. Daniel Stolz was injured while working as a concrete finisher for Jostin Construction. Jostin was a subcontractor of Messer Construction Company, the general contractor for the project. Under section 4123.35(O), Messer provided workers’ compensation coverage on the project for employees of subcontractors like Jostin that chose to enroll in Messer’s self-insurance plan. Stolz eventually sued Messer and several subcontractors for negligence. Messer and three enrolled subcontractors argued that they were immune from liability under section 4123.35(O). The Supreme Court concluded that the statute provides immunity to both general contractors and enrolled subcontractors from tort claims brought by employees of other enrolled subcontractors. Stolz later amended his complaint to allege that section 4123.35(O) is unconstitutional. The enrolled subcontractors petitioned the district court to certify a question of state law to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court answered that section 4123.35(O) does not violate the Ohio Constitution’s right-to-remedy, right-to-jury, or equal-protection provisions. View "Stolz v. J & B Steel Erectors, Inc." on Justia Law
Ohio Northern University v. Charles Construction Services, Inc.
At issue was whether a general contractor’s commercial general liability (CGL) policy that is nearly identical to the one considered in Westfield Insurance Co. v. Custom Agri Systems, Inc., 979 N.E.2d 269 (Ohio 2012), covers claims for property damage caused by a subcontractor’s faulty work. The Supreme Court resolved the issue by applying the holding of Custom Agri which provides that property damage caused by a subcontractor’s faulty work is not an “occurrence” under a CGL policy because it cannot be deemed fortuitous. The Court then reversed the judgment of the court of appeals, which reversed the trial court’s conclusion that the insurer in this case had no duty to defend the CGL policy owner, a general contractor. The Supreme Court held that the insurer was not required to defend the insured against suit by the property owner or indemnify the insured against any damage caused by the insured’s contractor. View "Ohio Northern University v. Charles Construction Services, Inc." on Justia Law
Smith v. Erie Insurance Co.
Scott and Dawn Smith (together, Insureds) filed an insurance claim with Erie Insurance Company (Insurer) seeking uninsured-motorist coverage as a result of injuries suffered by Scott in a no-contact accident allegedly caused by an unidentified vehicle. Insurer denied the claim. The trial court granted summary judgment to Insurer, concluding that a provision in the policy requiring Insureds to provide “independent corroborative evidence” that the unknown driver caused the injury meant that Insureds had to submit evidence, independent of Scott’s own testimony, corroborating that the accident was caused by an unknown motorist, and this they failed to do. The court of appeals reversed. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the policy’s requirement of independent corroborative evidence could be met using evidence derived from the insured’s testimony. View "Smith v. Erie Insurance Co." on Justia Law
World Harvest Church v. Grange Mut. Cas. Ins. Co.
Plaintiffs sued World Harvest Church (WHC) for claims arising from an incident involving Plaintiffs’ two-year-old son, who attended WHC’s daycare. Plaintiffs alleged that WHC’s employee had beaten their son with a knife. Final judgment was entered in favor of Plaintiffs in the amount of $2.87 million. The court of appeals affirmed. WHC subsequently filed suit against Grange Mutual Casualty Company, which insured WHC under a commercial liability insurance policy and an umbrella policy and had defended the matter but reserved its right to deny coverage. Plaintiffs alleged that Grange improperly refused to indemnify it for any portion of the judgment awarded to Plaintiffs. The trial court entered judgment in favor of WHC, finding that Grange was obligated to indemnify WHC in the amount of $1.47 million but that Grange was not responsible to indemnify WHC for the punitive damages awarded to Plaintiffs. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) the abuse or molestation exclusion in the commercial liability insurance policy barred coverage for an award of damages based on WHC’s vicarious liability for intentional infliction of emotional distress arising from WHC’s employee’s abuse of Plaintiff’s son while in WHC’s care and custody; and (2) the policy did not provide coverage for an award of attorney fees and postjudgment interest. View "World Harvest Church v. Grange Mut. Cas. Ins. Co." on Justia Law
Dillon v. Farmers Ins. of Columbus, Inc.
Appellees damaged their vehicle when they collided with a deer in the roadway. Appellant insured the vehicle. Appellees had their vehicle repaired using aftermarket replacement parts that were not produced by the original equipment manufacturer (OEM). Appellant, however, refused to pay for OEM parts after providing an estimate that was based on the use of non-OEM parts. Appellees filed a complaint alleging eight causes of action related to Appellant’s estimate and its refusal to pay for OEM parts. The trial court granted summary judgment to Appellees on their claim that Appellant violated the Consumer Sales Practices Act by failing to obtain one of Appellees’ signatures on the bottom of the estimate, and Appellees voluntarily dismissed the remainder of their claims. The trial court awarded Appellees actual damages, statutory treble damages, attorney fees, and expenses. The court of appeals modified and affirmed the trial court’s award of damages. The Supreme Court vacated the judgment of the court of appeals and dismissed the cause, holding that Appellant’s provision of a repair estimate to Appellees was not in connection with a consumer transaction and, therefore, was not an “unfair or deceptive act or practice” pursuant to Ohio Rev. Code 1345.02. View "Dillon v. Farmers Ins. of Columbus, Inc." on Justia Law