Justia Insurance Law Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
Wiener v. MIB Group, Inc.
The First Circuit reversed the order of the district court dismissing this case at the pleading stage for lack of standing, holding that Malcom Wiener had Article III standing to sue Defendants, MIB Group, Inc. and its executive vice president, based on additional attorney's fees and costs Wiener insured to respond to Defendants' actions in a separate lawsuit.In 2018, Wiener sued AXA Equitable Life Insurance Company, his former life insurance company, for negligence. After the jury returned a verdict in favor of Wiener the district court granted AXA's motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The court of appeals reversed the decision granting AXA's motion to dismiss. Meanwhile, Wiener brought this suit against Defendants, alleging that he incurred out-of-pocket loss in the form of attorney's fees and costs and to respond to Defendants' actions in the related lawsuit. The district court dismissed the action, concluding that Wiener lacked Article III standing. The First Circuit reversed, holding that a past, out-of-pocket loss is a basis for Article III standing, and therefore, Wiener had standing to bring this suit. View "Wiener v. MIB Group, Inc." on Justia Law
Philadelphia Indemnity Insurance Co. v. BAS Holding Corp.
The First Circuit vacated the judgment of the district court in favor of Philadelphia Indemnity Insurance Company in this action seeking a declaration that BAS Holding Corporation breached a condition of the parties' insurance contract, holding that the district court's findings providing grounds for summary judgment were insupportable.After an arsonist destroyed a building owned by BAS and purportedly insured against loss by Philadelphia, the insurer sought an examination under oath (EUO) of George Carney, BAS's president and owner. Philadelphia then denied coverage on the grounds that BAS refused to provide Carney for an EUO, in violation of its obligations under the relevant insurance policy. Philadelphia then brought this action. The district court granted summary judgment for Philadelphia on the ground that BAS failed to cooperate by refusing to submit to the EUO. The First Circuit vacated the judgment, holding that where the evidence unequivocally showed the BAS never willfully and inexcusably refused to provide Carney for the EUO, and therefore summary judgment was improper. View "Philadelphia Indemnity Insurance Co. v. BAS Holding Corp." on Justia Law
Nahant Preservation Trust, Inc. v. Mount Vernon Fire Insurance Co.
The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court granting United States Liability Insurance Group's (USLI) motion to dismiss this lawsuit brought by Nahant Preservation Trust, Inc. to secure insurance coverage in connection with defense costs and indemnification arising from a state court action brought by Northeastern University, holding that there was no error.Northeastern sued Nahant in state court seeking a declaratory judgment regarding its rights concerning certain land. Nahant, which carried liability insurance through USLI, did not notify USLI of the suit until it wrote to USLI seeking coverage for defense costs. USLI refused to provide coverage on the grounds that Nahant had provided untimely notice of the claim. Thereafter Nahant sued USLI seeking, among other things, a declaratory judgment regarding USLI's duty to defend and indemnify. The First circuit granted USLI's motion to dismiss, concluding that the "exclusion agreement" signed by the parties excluded coverage. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the district court properly accepted USLI's plausible reading of the exclusion amendment. View "Nahant Preservation Trust, Inc. v. Mount Vernon Fire Insurance Co." on Justia Law
President & Fellows of Harvard College v. Zurich American Insurance Co.
The First Circuit affirmed the order of the district court granting summary judgment in favor of Insurer in this insurance dispute, holding that the failure to give notice according to the terms and conditions of an excess insurance policy forfeits any right to coverage.The President and Fellows of Harvard College purchased a one-year liability insurance policy from a member company of the American International Group, Inc. (AIG) requiring prompt notice of any claim filed against Harvard. Harvard purchased a secondary excess policy from Zurich American Insurance Co. providing that a policyholder give notice of any claims arising under the policy "in the same manner required by the terms and conditions of the [AIG] Policy." In 2014, a student organization sued Harvard for violating Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Harvard timely notified AIG of the pending suit but neglected to notify Zurich until after the policy's notification window. Therefore, Zurich denied coverage. Harvard brought this action seeking declaratory relief and damages for breach of contract. The district court granted summary judgment for Zurich. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that there was no basis for overturning the district court's entry of summary judgment. View "President & Fellows of Harvard College v. Zurich American Insurance Co." on Justia Law
Bonner v. Triple-S Vida, Inc.
The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court granting summary judgment in favor of Triple-S Management Corporation and Triple-S Vida, Inc. (collectively, Triple-S) and dismissing this case brought by Dora Bonner, holding that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying Bonner's discovery-related motions and did not err in considering the evidence at the summary judgment stage.Bonner brought several claims alleging that Triple-S denied her millions of dollars of proceeds from certain certificates and devised a scheme to defraud her. After denying Bonner's motion to compel discovery and extend the discovery deadline, the district court concluded that Triple-S had established as a matter of law that the persons behind the fraudulent scheme were not related to Triple-S. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the district court (1) did not abuse its discretion in denying the motion to compel and motion for consideration; and (2) properly granted summary judgment for Triple-S. View "Bonner v. Triple-S Vida, Inc." on Justia Law
Green Enterprises, LLC v. Hiscox Syndicates Limited at Lloyd’s of London
The First Circuit affirmed the judgment of the district court granting a motion to compel arbitration in this insurance dispute, holding that the district court correctly granted the motion to compel arbitration brought by the underwriters of Green Enterprises, LLC's insurance policy, all syndicates at Lloyd's of London (Underwriters).After a fire destroyed one of its plants, Green, a Puerto Rican recycling company, filed an insurance claim. Underwriters denied the claim, after which Green brought this lawsuit. Underwriters filed a motion to compel arbitration under an arbitration clause in the parties' contract. The district court granted the motion and dismissed Green's claims without prejudice. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the district court properly granted the motion to compel. View "Green Enterprises, LLC v. Hiscox Syndicates Limited at Lloyd's of London" on Justia Law
Great Lakes Insurance SE v. Andersson
The First Circuit reversed the judgment of the district court ruling that Insured's claim of unfair claim settlement practices in violation of Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 176D and 93A was barred by the choice-of-law provision of the marine insurance policy he purchased from Great Lakes Insurance SE (GLI), holding that the district court erred.Insurer, the insurer of Insured's forty-seven-foot catamaran sailing vessel, brought a declaratory judgment action to determine whether the "constructive total loss" of Insured's vessel was covered under the relevant policy. Insured brought a counterclaim alleging violations of Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 176D, 3(9) and ch. 93A, 9(3A). The district court ruled that pursuant to the policy's choice-of-law provision, New York law barred Insured's Massachusetts counterclaim because New York law does not provide for a chapters 176D and 93A claim. The First Circuit reversed, holding (1) Insured's statutorily-based counterclaim was extra-contractual; (2) the plain language of the choice-of-law provision was not broad enough to unambiguously encompass an extra-contractual claim; and (3) any ambiguity in the policy must be construed in favor of Insured. View "Great Lakes Insurance SE v. Andersson" on Justia Law
Gottlieb v. Amica Mutual Insurance Co.
The First Circuit affirmed the judgments of the district court dismissing part of Plaintiff's putative class action for failure to state a claim and entering summary judgment disposing of the remainder of his claims, holding that there was no error in the proceedings below.In his complaint, Plaintiff argued that an increased coverage limit on his house and premium violated the terms of his contract with Amica Mutual Insurance Company and that he and other Amica insureds paid too much to insure their homes. The district court dismissed the breach of contract and implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing claims and then granted summary judgment for Amica on the unjust enrichment, money had and received, and Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 93A claims. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that there was no reversible error in the proceedings below. View "Gottlieb v. Amica Mutual Insurance Co." on Justia Law
Motorists Commercial Mutual Insurance Co. v. Hartwell
The First Circuit affirmed the conclusion of the district court conclusion that the insurance policy issued by Motorists Commercial Mutual Insurance Company to the dealership that owned a motor vehicle that killed and injured several people did cover the accident at issue in this case, holding that the district court did not err.This dispute arose from an auction at which a motor vehicle being displayed for bidding suddenly accelerated into a group of auction attendees, killing five people and injuring several more. Motorists brought this action seeking a declaration that its policies did not provide coverage for the victims' claims against the auctioneer or its employee who was behind the wheel of the vehicle when it struck the victims. The district court granted summary judgment for Motorists. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the policies at issue did not provide coverage for the accident. View "Motorists Commercial Mutual Insurance Co. v. Hartwell" on Justia Law
Lionbridge Technologies, LLC v. Valley Forge Insurance Co.
The First Circuit reversed the ruling of the district court granting summary judgment in favor of a general liability insurer (Insurer) and dismissing Insured's complaint seeking full coverage of its defense when the company faced a trade secrets lawsuit brought by a competitor, holding that Insured was entitled to summary judgment on the duty to defend.Insured brought this action after Insurer only paid for some of Insured's defense. Insurer counterclaimed seeking a declaratory judgment of absolution from policy coverage. During discovery, both parties moved to compel responses. A magistrate judge denied Insurer's request for information exchanged between Insured and its lawyers and then stayed discovery until it ruled on cross-motions for summary judgment. The district court then granted summary judgment for Insurer. The First Circuit held (1) the district court erred in granting summary judgment for Insurer, and Insured was entitled to summary judgment on the duty to defend; (2) on the reasonableness of the defense, the case is remanded for further proceedings; and (3) the district court correctly granted Insurer's motion to compel. View "Lionbridge Technologies, LLC v. Valley Forge Insurance Co." on Justia Law