Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to Strata's excess insurer, Houston Casualty, and denial of its cross-motion for summary judgment. After an employee was killed in a mine accident, his estate filed the underlying suit alleging that Strata's intentional failure to maintain a safe workplacae triggered an exception to the Montana Workers Compensation Act which provided the exclusive remedy for work injuries. The court held that the district court properly granted summary judgment to Houston Casualty because the excess insurance policy did not cover the estate's claims against Strata in the underlying suit. Therefore, Houston Casualty had no duty to indemnify Strata and thus it did not breach its duty of good faith. In this case, under the policy's plain and unambiguous language, coverage was subject to the Montana Intentional Acts Exclusion Endorsement. View "Houston Casualty Co. v. Strata Corp." on Justia Law

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Defendant appealed the district court's vacatur of the arbitration award plaintiff received against his insurer, Great American, for wrongfully denying his claim for damage to his corn crop. The court vacated and remanded for further proceedings, holding that vacatur of the arbitration award was improper because the arbitrators rendered a sufficiently mutual, final, and definite award. The court held that the arbitration panel's failure to break down the award by county did not mean that it was so imperfectly executed such that it rendered no mutual, final, and definite award. The court also found that the panel's written explanation for the award amount was adequate. View "Great American Insurance Co. v. Russell" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for American Family, in an action brought by Clarke, alleging that the insurer wrongfully denied coverage for defense and indemnity of a lawsuit against Clarke in state court. The court held that the claims as pled in the underlying state court action did not give rise to a duty to defend under Iowa law, and no duty to indemnify could exist. In this case, the claims for damages caused by ice dams during the 2009-2010 winter did not rationally involve property damage that occurred before the policy expired in 2006. View "Clarke Co., Ltd. v. American Family Mutual Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for Employers in an action brought by Employers, seeking a declaratory judgment to clarify whether Hartford had a duty to pay half of the expenses related to an underlying workers' compensation claim. The court held that Hartford's purported cancellation of an insurance policy, after a workers' compensation claim had arisen, was void under Missouri law. Furthermore, assuming that Hartford properly pleaded the affirmative defense of mutual mistake, the court held that the company failed to identify any mutual mistake during the formation of the contract. View "Employers Preferred Insurance Co. v. Hartford Accident & Indemnity Co." on Justia Law

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American Family filed suit seeking a declaratory judgment against Vein Centers, its insured, disputing American Family's duty to defend and indemnify Vein Centers in a class action. St. Louis was the class representative in the underlying action against Vein Centers and later joined as a defendant in the declaratory judgment action. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for American Family, holding that the district court did not err in concluding that American Family satisfied its burden of establishing the minimum amount in controversy and summary judgment was proper because St. Louis Heart failed to provide any evidence that adequate notice of the policy exclusion was not provided to Vein Centers. View "American Family Mutual Insurance Co. v. St. Louis Heart Center, Inc." on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of Twin City's cross-motion for summary judgment, finding that Twin City did not owe Robert Mau or EWS a duty to defend under a Twin City insurance policy. Applying North Dakota law, the court held that Twin City owed no duty to defend Mau in his capacity as director and officer of MW because no claims were brought against him in that capacity and, in any event, the dual service exclusion applied. The court also held that Twin City did not owe a duty to defend EWS where the claims against it for breach of contract and fraud are based upon the Asset Purchase Agreement and liability could not have been incurred in absence of the Agreement. Furthermore, even if EWS's arguments had some validity, the contract exclusion would apply to any resulting liability. View "Mau v. Twin City Fire Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's entry of judgment for the insured in a dispute over property coverage of a building that was destroyed by fire. The court held that the district court correctly entered judgment for the insured on the bad faith claim where Met could not prove misrepresentation or deception by the insured, or any reliance thereupon by Met. The court also held that the district court properly calculated the economic damages the insured suffered as a result of Met's bad faith refusal to pay pursuant to the provisions of the improperly rescinded contract. Furthermore, the district court did not abuse its discretion in awarding reasonable attorney fees. View "Hayes v. Metropolitan Property & Casualty Insurance" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment in favor of defendant in an action brought by Lincoln Life for damages it incurred in a lawsuit brought by a policyholder who purchased a Lincoln policy through defendant. Defendant counterclaimed, seeking withheld commissions and bonuses from the sale of that policy. The court held that the district court did not err in granting Wilson summary judgment on Lincoln's claim for damages on the ground the claims were collaterally estopped by the New York judgment finding coverage under the policies; by precluding Lincoln from asserting as a defense against defendant's counterclaim for commissions that he breached his agent's contract in connection with the sale of the policies; and in granting defendant prejudgment interest on his liquidated damage claims. View "Lincoln Benefit Life v. Wilson" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment to plaintiffs, holding that St. Paul Insurance's policy expressly precluded indemnification of intentional criminal acts and that David Kofoed's act of evidence tampering did not fall within the malicious prosecution exception. Kofoed was criminally convicted for evidence tampering while investigating two murders and eventually charging plaintiffs with the murders. The court held that St. Paul's policy coverage was not illusory where it excluded coverage for acts with specific intent, but did not cover general intent acts; the policy did not provide some exceptions to the exclusions to cover certain intentional acts such as malicious prosecution; and Kofoed's evidence-tampering crime was analogous to civil malicious prosecution. Because plaintiffs failed to sufficiently plead the malicious prosecution cause of action in their complaints, the district court's entry of default judgment against Kofoed did not include malicious prosecution. Because Kofoed's judgment did not include malicious prosecution, plaintiffs failed in their burden to show that an exception to the insurance exclusion applied. Therefore, St. Paul had no duty to indemnify Kofoed. View "Sampson v. St. Paul Fire and Marine Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment in an action filed by plaintiff, seeking additional insurance benefits for smoke and fire damage at his home. The court held that plaintiff's policy was an actual-cash-value policy, and that plaintiff was not entitled to relief on his evidentiary claim. In this case, plaintiff failed to show that the district court admonished the jury to disregard his testimony, he did not otherwise make an offer of proof as to what additional testimony he sought to provide, and he failed to provide a transcript of the final day of trial. View "Hatcher v. MDOW Insurance Co." on Justia Law