Justia Insurance Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals
Carl E. Woodward, L.L.C., et al. v. Travelers Indemnity Co. of CT
This appeal presented the final set of issues arising from claims of negligent construction of a condominium project in south Mississippi. The district court held that a subcontractor's Commercial General Liability (CGL) insurer breached its duty to defend the general contractor. The court concluded that the district court erred in holding that there was a duty to defend where the CGL insurer was not on notice of a claim under the policy. Consequently, the remaining appellate issues concerning the calculation and allocation of the costs of the alleged failure to defend were moot. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded. View "Carl E. Woodward, L.L.C., et al. v. Travelers Indemnity Co. of CT" on Justia Law
James v. State Farm Mutual Auto Ins. Co.
After State Farm tendered the policy limit on its uninsured motor vehicle coverage to plaintiff nearly thirty months after she was injured, plaintiff brought a bad faith claim under Mississippi law. The district court granted State Farm's motion for summary judgment. Applying Mississippi substantive law, the court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment as to any breach of contract claim independent of the bad faith claim; the court held that there was a fact issue as to whether, under the totality of the circumstances, State Farm had an arguable or legitimate basis for its delay; and therefore, the court reversed and remanded the district court's grant of summary judgment as to plaintiff's bad faith claim. View "James v. State Farm Mutual Auto Ins. Co." on Justia Law
Boyett, et al. v. Redland Ins. Co.
Plaintiff and his wife sought to recover damages for plaintiff's injuries under an insurance policy Redland issued to plaintiff's employer. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Redland, concluding that plaintiff could not avail himself of uninsured motorist (UM) benefits under Title 22, Section 1295 of the Louisiana Revised Statutes. The district court ruled that the offending uninsured machine, a forklift, was not a "motor vehicle" for purposes of that law. The court reversed and remanded, holding that a forklift was a "motor vehicle" within the contemplation of Section 1295's identification of the uninsured or underinsured vehicle. View "Boyett, et al. v. Redland Ins. Co." on Justia Law
United National Ins. Co. v. Mundell Terminal Servs., et al.
This case involved copper sheeting owned by BMI that was stolen while MTS stored it in its warehouse. Aon had issued an insurance policy to BMI which covered the stolen copper. Defendant MTS and Intervenor Defendants KDP and SMA appealed from the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of UNIC in a declaratory judgment insurance coverage dispute. The district court held that UNIC's first-party insurance policy issued to MTS was excess to BMI's own insurance policy and, therefore, no coverage existed under UNIC's policy. The court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment, holding, inter alia, that the Aon policy constituted "other insurance" with respect to the UNIC policy. Pursuant to Exclusion K, no coverage existed under the UNIC policy for the thefts of BMI's copper. The court also concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying KDP's Rule 59 motion where there was no conflict between the district court's final judgment and its memorandum opinion. View "United National Ins. Co. v. Mundell Terminal Servs., et al." on Justia Law
Lawyers Title Ins. Corp. v. Doubletree Partners, L.P.
These consolidated appeals arose from a title insurance coverage dispute between the insured, Doubletree, and its insurance company, Lawyers Title. The court held that the magistrate judge correctly reformed the policy; the reformed policy covered survey errors in identifying the location of the flowage easement; the court rejected the magistrate judge's interpretation of the reformed policy and remanded; the court affirmed the grant of summary judgment in favor of Lawyers Title as to Doubletree's extracontractual claims; and the magistrate judge abused his discretion in awarding fees to Lawyers' Title under 28 U.S.C. 1927 and the court reversed the award. View "Lawyers Title Ins. Corp. v. Doubletree Partners, L.P." on Justia Law
Weeks Marine, Inc. v. Standard Concrete Products, Inc.
John Johnson Jr. filed suit in state court against defendants, including Weeks Marine and Standard Concrete, for injuries he sustained when he fell from his crane while working on a project. This case concerned the terms of an indemnity agreement between Weeks Marine and Standard Concrete. Weeks Marine, the general contractor on the project, sought a declaration that Standard Concrete, Johnson's employer, was contractually obligated to defend and indemnify it in the underlying state court action. The court concluded that the indemnity agreement did not cover the underlying state court action and Weeks Marine pointed to no facts on appeal that lead the court to conclude otherwise. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's judgment in favor of Standard Concrete. View "Weeks Marine, Inc. v. Standard Concrete Products, Inc." on Justia Law
City of College Station, Texas v. Star Ins. Co.
After SIC refused to defend or indemnify its insured, the City, in a lawsuit brought by WRI, the City settled the underlying litigation with WRI and sued SIC to recover defense costs, indemnification, and statutory penalty interest. The court concluded that SIC was liable for the City's defense costs where WRI's constitutional and tortious interference claims could produce liability that did not arise out of WRI's inverse condemnation action; the court remanded for the district court to allow the parties to introduce evidence regarding SIC's indemnity obligation where the pleadings did not raise a possibility of municipal liability independent of any just-compensation liability arising out of WRI's inverse condemnation action; the court remanded for the district court to assess the penalty interest under section 542.058 of the Texas Insurance Code; and, because it was not yet clear whether the City would prevail on its indemnity claim, or how much of the City's attorney's fees were attributable to litigating the indemnity claim, the court concluded that the district court could determine whether there was any fee award under section 38.001 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded for further proceedings. View "City of College Station, Texas v. Star Ins. Co." on Justia Law
Johnston & Johnston v. Conseco Life Ins. Co.
Plaintiff filed suit seeking declaratory relief and specific performance concerning a life insurance policy. At issue was whether any of the several notices that the insurance company sent plaintiff satisfied the requirements of Louisiana Revised Statutes 22:905, which outlined notice requirements for lapsing life insurance policies. The court concluded that the district court erred in finding that December 21, 2010, was the operative date for section 22:905 purposes, and therefore abused its discretion in denying the insurance company's motion to alter or amend the judgment. The language of section 22:905 supported the conclusion that the payment that was "due," "payable," and required to be paid was the payment at the end of the grace period, on February 11, 2011. Given the insurance company's compliance with the notice requirements, plaintiff could not claim that the company failed to provide it with fair notice. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded for entry of judgment in the insurance company's favor. View "Johnston & Johnston v. Conseco Life Ins. Co." on Justia Law
Cardenas v. United of Omaha Life Ins. Co.
This case arose when United of Omaha denied plaintiff's claim for benefits from a life insurance policy taken out by plaintiff's daughter. The policy at issue lapsed for nonpayment of premiums and was then reinstated. On appeal, plaintiff argued that the district court failed to correctly apply Texas law governing incontestability provisions in life insurance contracts and that the district court erred by expanding the interpretation of the insurance contract. The court found it logical to conclude that Texas Insurance Code 1101.006 treated policy issuances and policy reinstatements in a uniform manner, when neither section 1101.006 nor 28 Texas Administrative Code 3.104(a) provided any reason to treat issuances and reinstatements differently. Although the court's interpretation of the relationship between sections 1101.006 and 3.104(a) differed from that of the district court, the court concluded that the district court properly denied plaintiff's motion for judgment as a matter of law on this issue. The court rejected plaintiff's remaining claim and affirmed the judgment of the district court. View "Cardenas v. United of Omaha Life Ins. Co." on Justia Law
TMM Investments, Ltd. v. Ohio Casualty Ins. Co.
This appeal arose out of an insurance dispute between TMM, which owned a shopping center, and OCIC, which insured the property. At issue was the extent of damage that was caused to the property during a hailstorm. An appraisal was conducted but the district court set aside the appraisal award and had the case proceed to trial where an advisory jury assessed a damage award. The court held that the appraisal award was incorrect in that it excluded damage to the HVAC unit from the award, but that the rest of the award should remain unaffected by this determination; the appraisers did not exceed their authority when they considered causation issues, and therefore the appraisal award should not have been set aside; OCIC was only obligated to pay the amount articulated in the award, plus the cost of repair for the HVAC system; and, therefore, OCIC fulfilled the terms of the insurance contract when it tendered the amount articulated in the award and the cost of the repair to the HVAC system to TMM. Accordingly, the court held that there was no breach of contract and TMM's cross-appeal was moot. The court reversed and remanded so that the district court could reinstate the appraisal award. View "TMM Investments, Ltd. v. Ohio Casualty Ins. Co." on Justia Law