Justia Insurance Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
Cohen v. Allstate Insurance Co.
Plaintiff filed suit against Allstate and its agent for breach of contract after Allstate refused to pay a claim for flood damage. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment in favor of Allstate, holding that the district court did not err in granting summary judgment on the breach of contract claim because the claim was time-barred. The court also held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying petitioner's Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59(e) motion. View "Cohen v. Allstate Insurance Co." on Justia Law
McDonnel Group, LLC v. Great Lakes Insurance SE
After insurers denied McDonnel's claim, McDonnel initiated a declaratory and breach of contract action. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of the action in favor of arbitration and held that the insurance policy's conformity provision did not negate the agreement to arbitrate. The court held that the state statute, La. Rev. Stat. Ann. 22:868, was preempted by the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards, and thus the statute did not and could not apply to McDonnel's policy. Consequently, there was no conflict between the policy and the state statute. Therefore, the court held that the conformity provision was not triggered, and its inapplicability leads only to the conclusion that the arbitration provision survives, undiminished by state law. View "McDonnel Group, LLC v. Great Lakes Insurance SE" on Justia Law
Lloyd’s Syndicate 457 v. FloaTEC, LLC
Underwriters filed suit against FloaTEC, claiming that they were subrogated to Chevron's right to sue FloaTEC for damages caused by tendon failures of a floating oil-drilling platform. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of Underwriters' claims with prejudice, holding that the district court correctly ruled on FloaTEC's motion to dismiss before addressing any issue concerning the arbitrability of Underwriters' claims. The court also held that the district court correctly found that FloaTEC was an "Other Assured" under the policy and could thus invoke the subrogation waiver. View "Lloyd's Syndicate 457 v. FloaTEC, LLC" on Justia Law
Foster v. Principal Life Insurance Co.
The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment in favor of Principal in an action brought by plaintiff, alleging that Principal abused its discretion by denying her benefits. The court held that Principal's benefits denial was supported by substantial evidence. The court held that, at bottom, there was no abuse of discretion in Principal's reliance on its own treating physicians' reports detailing an absence of plaintiff's impairments. The court also held that, although Principal had a structural conflict of interest that it both evaluates and pays claims, this factor had little weight in light of the extensive investigation that Principal conducted. View "Foster v. Principal Life Insurance Co." on Justia Law
Mid-Continent Casualty Co. v. Petroleum Solutions, Inc.
Mid-Continent filed a declaratory judgment action seeking a declaration that it did not owe coverage for a judgment assessed against its insured, PSI. The district court ruled that the Cooperation Clause in the policy applied to PSI's third-party claim in the underlying lawsuit and that only parts of the judgment were covered. The Fifth Circuit affirmed in part and held that, regardless of whether the Cooperation Clause applied to affirmative claims, the Cooperation-Clause jury instruction was not an abuse of discretion. The court reversed the district court's conclusion that the Professional Liability Endorsement did not cover the entire judgment and held that it did. View "Mid-Continent Casualty Co. v. Petroleum Solutions, Inc." on Justia Law
Evanston Insurance Co. v. Mid-Continent Casual
Mack truck’s primary insurer refused to contribute more than $1 million toward the settlements of the final three auto collisions, claiming that they were part of a single "accident" under its policy and that $1 million was the primary insurer's limit of liability per accident. The Fifth Circuit applied Texas law and held that there was one accident under the policy. In this case, the chain of causation remained unbroken and the ongoing negligence of the runaway Mack truck was the single proximate, uninterrupted, and continuing cause of all the collisions. Therefore, the court reversed the district court's decision that there were two accidents and rendered judgment in favor of the primary insurer. View "Evanston Insurance Co. v. Mid-Continent Casual" on Justia Law
John M. O’Quinn, P.C. v. Lexington Insurance Co.
In a case arising from a fee dispute about litigation expenses that an arbitration panel found attorneys had improperly allocated to their clients, the Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment that there was no coverage under the terms of the excess policy. The court applied Texas law and held that Lexington, the excess carrier, was not liable for any portion of the judgment and for any attorneys' fees as defense costs expended in the underlying litigation. In this case, the excess policy's provisions expressly stated that there was no coverage for the type of breach of contract found by the arbitrators in the underlying action. Furthermore, the definition of "Loss" did not cover the remedy that the arbitration panel imposed as a consequence of the breach of fiduciary duty. View "John M. O'Quinn, P.C. v. Lexington Insurance Co." on Justia Law
United States v. Nature’s Way Marine, LLC
The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's summary judgment determination that Nature's Way, as the owner of a tugboat, was also "operating" an oil barge that the tugboat was moving at the time of a collision, as the term was used in the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA). The court held that the ordinary and natural meaning of "operating" under the statute would apply to the exclusive navigational control that Nature's Way exercised over the barge at the time of the collision. Therefore, the National Pollution Funds Center violated the Administrative Procedures Act by determining that Nature's Way was an operator of the barge and thus denying reimbursement on the grounds that its liability should be limited by the tonnage of the tugboat and not the tonnage of the barges. View "United States v. Nature's Way Marine, LLC" on Justia Law
Lyda Swinerton Builders, Inc. v. Oklahoma Surety Co.
The Fifth Circuit withdrew its prior opinion and substituted the following opinion in light of the Texas Supreme Court's opinion on rehearing in USAA Texas Lloyds Co. v. Menchaca, 545 S.W.3d 479 (2018). This case involved issues of Texas law relating to an insurer's duty to defend and the damages that an insured may recover when an insurer beaches that duty. The court affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment in LSB's favor on the duty to defend and OSC's breach of that duty and held that there were no genuine issues of material fact and LSB was entitled to judgment as a matter of law. The court also affirmed the district court's denial of OSC's motion for partial summary judgment based on the anti-stacking rule; affirmed summary judgment in favor of LSB under the Prompt Payment Claims Act; reversed the district court's judgment with respect to LSB's Chapter 541 of the Texas Insurance Code claim and remanded for further proceedings in light of Menchaca; and reversed the district court's judgment to the extent it imposed an 18% statutory penalty after the date of judgment. View "Lyda Swinerton Builders, Inc. v. Oklahoma Surety Co." on Justia Law
Adkins v. USDA
At issue in this appeal was a statutory scheme that dictates how to calculate farmers' crop insurance policies. Determining that it had jurisdiction over the appeal, the Fifth Circuit held that farmers were permitted to exclude the historical data for the 2015 crop year, even though the FCIC had not completed its data compilation. In this case, the FCIC has not provided any textual or contextual clues that would cast doubt on the plain language of the Federal Crop Insurance Act, 7 U.S.C. 1508(g)(4). Therefore, the farmers prevailed at Chevron step one. View "Adkins v. USDA" on Justia Law