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 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damages the insured suffered as a result of Met's bad faith refusal to pay pursuant to the provisions of the improperly rescinded contract.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

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The Eighth Circuit held that the district court erred in holding that the misstatement clause in the contested life insurance policy did not apply where it might (or would) reduce the benefits of an incontestable policy to zero. In this case, the policy contained a provision that the policy was incontestable after two years, as well as a provision which permitted the insurer to reduce the benefit to the amount the premium would have purchased at the insured's correct age. The court explained that it was not apparent from the language in the policy that the amount payable was limited to the benefits available under the policy the insured actually purchased if she was ineligible for it at her age. Therefore, the court affirmed the district court's denial of summary judgment to Farmers, but reversed its grant of summary judgment to plaintiff, remanding for further proceedings. View "Yang v. Farmers New World Life Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to American Family in an action alleging breach of contract, negligent misrepresentation, and violation of Minnesota's consumer fraud statutes. The court held that American Family did not breach the contract because nothing in the policy imposed on American Family a contractual obligation to make objectively reasonable or accurate replacement cost estimates; American Family did not negligently misrepresent the replacement cost of plaintiffs home where, regardless of any breach of duty, no genuine dispute existed as to justifiable reliance upon the estimates; and plaintiffs could point to any promise, misrepresentation, or false statement made by American Family, let alone one that they relied upon, justifiably or unjustifiably, in deciding to purchase or renew the policy. View "Nelson v. American Family Mutual Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit reversed the district court's dismissal of a breach-of-contract action to recover unpaid insurance premiums. The court held that the administrative procedures available to the insurer were too informal to require exhaustion under then-applicable Missouri law. Therefore, Travelers had no obligation to exhaust its administrative remedies before filing its lawsuit. The court remanded for further proceedings. View "Travelers Property Casualty Insurance Company of America v. Jet Midwest Technik" on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of an action against WireCo's workers' compensation insurance carriers, Liberty, seeking damages for excess premiums that WireCo allegedly paid on three of Liberty's insurance policies. The court held that the plain language and established purpose of the Missouri vexatious refusal to pay statute indicated that it applied to claims filed under a policy that related to a covered loss and that a breach of a contract of overcharging or of failure to refund premium was not a loss contemplated by the statute. Therefore, a loss under the statute did not include excess premium payments. The court also held that only the theories of breach of contract were before the district court at summary judgment; even assuming the rating plans were incorporated into the policies, and that Liberty breached the contracts, WireCo must present evidence that Liberty's alleged breaches caused WireCo to suffer damages; and Liberty was entitled to summary judgment on WireCo's breach of contract claims because WireCo failed to present evidence that it would have paid lower premiums if Liberty had complied with the notice and documentation requirements of the Missouri and Texas schedule rating plans. View "WireCo WorldGroup, Inc. v. Liberty Mutual Fire Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment deferring to an insurance policy interpretation made by the FCIC and a determination regarding the FCIC's authority made by the RMA. The court held that the clear language of the Federal Crop Insurance Act indicated that Congress intended the Corporation to have extensive and broad authority; given the FCIA's broad grant of authority to the Corporation, and the specific authority over the provisions of insurance and insurance contracts found in 5 U.S.C. 1505 and 1506, substantial deference was given to the FCIC's interpretation of the special provision; and, considering the plain language of the insurance contract and the deference given to the RMA in its role of supervisor of the FCIC, the RMA's determination that the FCIC was required to provide an interpretation of the special provision to the arbitrating parties was not clearly erroneous. View "Bottoms Farm Partnership v. Perdue" on Justia Law