Articles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

by
Cooper filed suit against National Union after the insurer denied a claim under a commercial-crime insurance policy. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's take-nothing judgment against Cooper. Determining that Texas law governs the court's interpretation of the policy, the court held that Cooper suffered a "loss" only after it loaned the principal to Greenwood and Walsh and that Cooper did not "own" the funds when they were in the fraudsters' possession. Because these holdings were sufficient to preclude coverage, the court need not consider the parties' remaining contentions. Accordingly, the court dismissed National Union's cross-appeal. View "Cooper Industries, Ltd. v. National Union Fire Insurance Co." on Justia Law

by
The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for United in plaintiff's action seeking benefits under an accidental death and dismemberment and life insurance policy provided by his employer. The court held that plaintiff's eye infection was not an "Accident" within the meaning of the policy. Furthermore, plaintiff's loss of sight from a fungal infection was not "independent of Sickness," and was not covered by the policy. The court reasoned that the policy's extension of coverage did not turn on whether the death or loss was caused by a condition that arose after the inception of the policy. Rather, the nature and cause of the loss determine whether there was coverage. In this case, the contra proferentem rule did not apply because the policy terms were not unambiguous and the court need not construe the policy against United. View "Ramirez v. United of Omaha Life Insurance Co." on Justia Law

by
Mainali filed suit against Covington for breach of contract, breach of the duty of good faith and fair dealing, fraud, and violations of the Texas Insurance Code and Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for Covington on all of Mainali's claims. The court rejected Mainali's contention that the appraisal award was incomplete because it excluded damage to items covered by the policy where Mainali cited nothing in the record to show that these items were not included. The court also held that Covington did not violate the Prompt Payment of Claims Act where Covington was not trying to avoid payment of the claim; it was invoking a contractually agreed to mechanism for assessing the amount it owed. View "Mainali Corp. v. Covington Specialty Insurance Co." on Justia Law

by
After Exxon settled the underlying personal injury lawsuit, it sought reimbursement from ERS and ORIC, contending that ERS's contractual obligation to insure Exxon as an additional insured and the insurance policy issued by ORIC required ERS and ORIC to pay for the settlement of the suit and the cost of litigation. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment as to ERS's duty to pay the deductible; reversed the portion of the judgment pertaining to the interest award and remanded for calculation of a new interest award; vacated the portion of the judgment that held ORIC jointly and severally liable with ERS for the entire judgment and remanded for modification; reversed the denial of Exxon's attorney's fees for the initial appeal and remanded for determination of amounts; and affirmed the denial of Exxon's previously unrequested attorney's fees. View "ExxonMobil Corp. v. Electrical Reliability Services, Inc." on Justia Law

by
The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for Nationwide in a suit seeking insurance coverage for an underlying complaint. The court held that the underlying complaint failed to allege an advertising injury covered under the policy because it did not allege the use of another's advertising idea, a trade dress claim, nor a claim for slogan infringement. View "Laney Chiropractic and Sports Therapy v. Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co." on Justia Law

by
After a commercial warehouse sustained substantial fire damage, the owner of the warehouse (Emerald), filed suit against the lessee (Sunrise), the insurance agent, and the insurer. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to the insurance defendants, holding that Emerald's claims failed under Florida and Mississippi law. In this case, no Mississippi case recognizes a duty owed by an agent to a party in Emerald's position when the agent procures insurance for its insured. Emerald's claims under Florida law failed because it had never claimed status as a third-party beneficiary to the contract to procure insurance. View "Emerald Coast Finest Produce Co. v. Alterra American Insurance Co." on Justia Law

by
The rights that flow through a subrogation clause allow an insurer to seek reformation of a contract between its insured and a third party. After Associated paid the portion of the underlying settlement that was in excess of the Westfield policy, Associated sought reimbursement from Scottsdale, an insurer that issued a commercial umbrella policy to Alpha. The Fifth Circuit held that the district court erred in reading reformation’s privity requirement to necessitate a specific connection to the Alpha-Scottsdale insurance policy. Rather, privity in Texas focuses on the relationship to a party. In this case, the subrogation clause in the Associated-Alpha policy provided that connection. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded. View "Associated International Insurance Co. v. Scottsdale Insurance Co." on Justia Law

by
This case involved an allision causing significant damage to a submerged moor line for a mobile offshore drilling unit used by Shell. Tesla, an offshore survey company, contracted with International to provide and operate the tow vessel. On appeal, International and Tesla challenged the district court's grant of summary judgment dismissing their indemnity and insurance claims. The Fifth Circuit held that a warning to Tesla's party chief that the tow vessel was moving too close to the moor line was a gratuitous act that had no effect on the outcome of the litigation. The court also held that none of the insurance policies were in the record nor was there any other evidence from which the policy language could be definitively discerned. Accordingly, the court vacated the district court's judgment as to Tesla's and International's insurance claims and remanded. View "International Marine, LLC v. Integrity Fisheries, Inc." on Justia Law