Justia Insurance Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
Eres v. Progressive American Insurance Co.
The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of Progressive in a third-party bad-faith action brought by plaintiff. Plaintiff claimed that Progressive was collaterally estopped by a previous action against the driver of the vehicle that hit plaintiff's vehicle, permanently injuring her and killing her son, from arguing that it had no opportunity to settle her claims within policy limits.Applying Florida law, the court concluded that, at bottom, it agreed with the district court's endorsement of the magistrate judge's detailed and well-reasoned factual findings and legal conclusions that Progressive did not act in bad faith. In this case, the day that Progressive learned of the accident, it concluded that it should offer the full bodily-injury policy limits to plaintiff and her son's estate; while the driver's criminal proceedings were ongoing, Progressive stayed in touch with plaintiff, informing her that it was ready to settle at her discretion; and after receiving plaintiff's counsel's unilateral offer to settle, Progressive's claims examiner, in-house counsel, and outside counsel promptly moved to satisfy his time-limited demands. The court explained that, under Florida law, an overbroad release can create a factual dispute regarding bad faith, but the totality of the circumstances and Progressive's release did not support a finding that Progressive acted in bad faith. View "Eres v. Progressive American Insurance Co." on Justia Law
Estate of Malkin v. Wells Fargo Bank, NA
In this dispute over an illegal stranger-originated life insurance (STOLI) policy, the district court found that the AIG Policy at issue lacked an insurable interest at its inception and was therefore void under Delaware Code Annotated Title 18, 2704(a), which, in relevant part, governs the purchase of a life insurance policy on the life of another person.The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's decision allowing the Estate to recover the policy's proceeds under section 2704(b) and finding that the policy was void. However, the court reversed the district court's decision to strike Berkshire's counterclaims for fraudulent and negligent misrepresentations. The court deferred its decision on the remaining issues in this case pending certification of two questions to the Supreme Court of Delaware. The court stated that Berkshire may be entitled to the premiums it paid and the district court erred by striking its misrepresentation counterclaims. The court reserved judgment on the questions of whether the district court properly calculated prejudgment interest to which the Estate is entitled. View "Estate of Malkin v. Wells Fargo Bank, NA" on Justia Law
Travelers Property Casualty Company of America v. Ocean Reef Charters LLC
The district court held on summary judgment that, under Eleventh Circuit precedent, federal maritime law requires strict compliance with captain and crew warranties in a marine insurance policy. The district court concluded that, because Ocean Reef breached those warranties, there was no coverage for the loss of its yacht under a policy issued by Travelers.The Eleventh Circuit applied Wilburn Boat Co. v. Firearm’s Fund Ins. Co., 348 U.S. 310, 316 (1955), and concluded that there does not exist entrenched federal maritime rules governing captain or crew warranties in this case. Therefore, Florida law applies to determine the effect of Ocean Reef's breaches. The court reversed and remanded for further proceedings. View "Travelers Property Casualty Company of America v. Ocean Reef Charters LLC" on Justia Law
MSP Recovery Claims, Series LLC v. The Hanover Insurance Co.
This appeal consolidates seven separate cases that three related corporate entities, MSP, originally filed in Florida state court against seventeen insurance companies. The district court granted MSP's motions to remand but declined to order the insurance companies to pay MSP's attorney's fees and costs.The Eleventh Circuit concluded that it does not have jurisdiction over the cross-appeals brought by Travelers, Northland, and Owners insurance companies. In this case, the remand orders fall within the scope of 28 U.S.C. 1447(c) and are unreviewable. Therefore, the court dismissed the cross-appeals for lack of jurisdiction. The court also concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying MSP's motions for attorney's fees and costs. The court held that it is not an abuse of discretion for a district judge to decline to award attorney's fees and costs under section 1447(c) simply because that judge or other district court judges within the same district have previously remanded in similar cases. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's orders. View "MSP Recovery Claims, Series LLC v. The Hanover Insurance Co." on Justia Law
Mack v. USAA Casualty Insurance Co.
Plaintiff filed suit against USAA on behalf of himself and a putative class for declaratory judgments that USAA's method to calculate insurance payments was inconsistent with Florida law and the insurance policy.The Eleventh Circuit concluded that plaintiff does not have standing to seek prospective relief on the off chance that he might total a car again in the future. The court further concluded that plaintiff's request for supplemental relief does not change the standing analysis for a declaratory judgment claim. Therefore, the court concluded that plaintiff does not have standing to bring his declaratory judgment claims, vacated the district court's order of dismissal, and remanded to the district court with instructions that the district court remand the case back to state court. View "Mack v. USAA Casualty Insurance Co." on Justia Law
Quintero v. Geico Marine Insurance Co.
After plaintiff's boat was stolen, Geico denied coverage based on plaintiff's misrepresentation that he was in possession of the boat. On appeal, plaintiff argued that the district court erred in applying the doctrine of uberrimae fidei.The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for Geico and denial of plaintiff's motion for partial summary judgment. The court held that plaintiff's misrepresentation voided his policy ab initio. Based on the record, the court concluded that plaintiff's initial policy, by its terms, expired on May 5, 2018, because he did not pay the required premium for the new policy period. Therefore, plaintiff's boat was uninsured between May 5, 2018, and when he first called Geico on May 25, 2018. Although plaintiff is correct that the doctrine of uberrimae fidei applies only when an insurer issues a policy, not when a policy is already in full force, his policy was not in full force on May 25th because it had expired. The court also concluded that plaintiff's statements were material to Geico's issuance of coverage on May 25, even if by renewal and backdating. Therefore, the district court properly applied the doctrine of uberrimae fidei and correctly held that plaintiff's renewal policy was void ab initio. View "Quintero v. Geico Marine Insurance Co." on Justia Law
Whiteside v. GEICO Indemnity Co.
The Eleventh Circuit certified three questions of insurance law to the Georgia Supreme Court: 1) When an insurer has no notice of a lawsuit against its insured, does O.C.G.A. 33-7-15 and a virtually identical insuring provision relieve the insurer of liability from a follow-on suit for bad faith? 2) If the notice provisions do not bar liability for a bad-faith claim, can an insured sue the insurer for bad faith when, after the insurer refused to settle but before judgment was entered against the insured, the insured lost coverage for failure to comply with a notice provision? 3) Does a party have the right to contest actual damages in a follow-on suit for bad faith if that party had no prior notice of or participation in the original suit? View "Whiteside v. GEICO Indemnity Co." on Justia Law
MSP Recovery Claims, Series LLC v. Ace American Insurance Co.
Plaintiffs, collection agencies, appealed the district court's dismissals with prejudice of their claims against defendants, seeking double damages against defendants under the Medicare Secondary Payer Act and alleging that actors within the Medicare Advantage system, including Medicare Advantage Organizations (MAOs) and various "downstream actors" that contracted with MAOs, had assigned their Medicare Secondary Payer Act claims to plaintiffs for collection.The Eleventh Circuit vacated the dismissals of plaintiffs' claims based on assignments from downstream actors, holding that the district court erred by narrowly construing 42 U.S.C. 1395y(b)(3)(A) to categorically exclude claims by downstream actors. The court explained that both the text and the objective of section 1395y(b)(3)(A) support allowing downstream actors to bring suit, or assign their right to bring suit, against primary payers. Therefore, the court remanded these claims for further proceedings.The court found that the district court erred insofar as it dismissed MSPRC's HFAP claims with prejudice, and ordered that the district court's dismissal be without prejudice. The court also found that the district court erred in dismissing MSPA's FHCP and IMC claims based on the purported cancellation and validity of MSPA's assignments. Finally, defendants' alternative claims are without merit. The court vacated the dismissal of plaintiffs' remaining claims in case number 18-12149. In case number 18-13049, the court affirmed the dismissal of plaintiffs' claims but modified the dismissal of these claims to be without prejudice. View "MSP Recovery Claims, Series LLC v. Ace American Insurance Co." on Justia Law
Sellers v. Nationwide Mutual Fire Insurance Co.
Nationwide appealed both the district court's order denying Nationwide's motion in limine and the final judgment entered in favor of plaintiff, as assignee of Gary Gardner & Gary Gardner Builders, Inc. At issue is the preclusive effect of a judgment entered by a federal court exercising diversity jurisdiction on a nonparty to an earlier federal action.The Eleventh Circuit held that when determining the preclusive effect of an earlier judgment rendered by a federal court exercising diversity jurisdiction, federal common law adopts the rules of issue preclusion applied by the State in which the rendering court sits. In this case, the court held that the district court was required to apply Alabama's rules of issue preclusion. Instead, the district court applied a federal rule of issue preclusion and that federal rule is not substantively similar to Alabama's rule on nonparty issue preclusion. Therefore, the court reversed the district court's order denying Nationwide's motion in limine, vacated the final judgment in favor of plaintiff, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Sellers v. Nationwide Mutual Fire Insurance Co." on Justia Law
AEGIS Electric & Gas International Services Ltd. v. ECI Management LLC
AEGIS filed suit alleging that it does not have a duty to defend or indemnify its insured ECI in an underlying state court action brought by a former tenant against ECI. In the underlying action, the tenant alleged that ECI wrongfully withheld the security deposits of current and former tenants in violation of Georgia's security deposit law.The Eleventh Circuit reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of AEGIS, holding that AEGIS has a duty to defend ECI in the underlying state court lawsuit against it because that action and certain relief sought, if proved, would constitute a covered "Loss" under the insurance policy. Although an award of the allegedly wrongfully withheld security deposit would not constitute a "Loss" under the policy, the court explained that any award of attorney's fees that ECI might become obligated to pay as part of the judgment in the underlying litigation would also fall within the policy's definition of "Loss." The court held that any award of attorney's fees under Georgia's security deposit law could constitute a potential "Loss" under the policy, and thus AEGIS maintains a duty to defend ECI. The court declined to offer any opinion as to whether AEGIS, in addition to its duty to defend, has any duty to indemnify ECI. View "AEGIS Electric & Gas International Services Ltd. v. ECI Management LLC" on Justia Law