Articles Posted in Insurance Law

by
The Eighth Circuit agreed with American Family that the district court erred in holding that the matching exclusion did not apply to the insureds' policy. Reviewing the district court's interpretation of the insurance policy de novo and applying Minnesota law, the court held that even if it were to discount the matching exclusion's explicit statement that it modifies the Form, as the district court did, other circumstances unambiguously showed that the Minnesota Endorsement, and thus the matching exclusion, applied to the insureds' policy. Therefore, the district court erred in reading the matching exclusion in the policy and, after applying the explicit and unambiguous exclusion, American Family was not obligated to pay for damages attributable to matching difficulties. View "Noonan v. American Family Mutual Insurance Co." on Justia Law

Posted in: Insurance Law

by
After Jeffrey Odom died in a motor vehicle accident driving a pick-up truck owned by his employer and insured by Berkley, Odom's widow filed a claim with Berkley for underinsured motorist (UIM) benefits. Berkeley then filed a diversity action seeking a declaratory judgment of no UIM coverage and plaintiff counter-claimed. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of Berkley's motion for summary judgment and held that the other driver's vehicle was not an "underinsured motor vehicle" as defined in Berkley's policy and in the auto insurance provisions of the North Dakota Century Code. View "Berkley Regional Insurance Co. v. Bernick-Odom" on Justia Law

Posted in: Insurance Law

by
After a fire seriously damaged the insureds' home, the insurer paid for their total property damage and then brought a diversity action against Entergy, alleging that the utility's equipment caused the fire. The insurer alleged subrogation claims for damages in excess of the amount paid for the damage. Although the district court erred in determining that the insurer did not have standing, the Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of Entergy's motion for judgment as a matter of law because the insurer failed to prove that the insureds were made whole either before or during this lawsuit. Therefore, a reasonable jury could not have found that the insurer proved an essential element of its subrogation claim. View "EMC Insurance v. Entergy Arkansas" on Justia Law

Posted in: Insurance Law

by
The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for LM General in an uninsured motorists (UM) coverage dispute. The district court concluded that there was no UM coverage because any liability of the uninsured motorist and his occupants to plaintiff did not arise out of the use of the uninsured motor vehicle. The court held that Missouri law requires UM coverage whenever an uninsured motorist is liable for injury to the insured arising out of the motorist's use of his uninsured auto. In this case, the injuries inflicted on a victim of a drive-by shooting by the occupant of a motor vehicle were not injuries which arise out of the "use" of the motor vehicle because the motor vehicle was merely the "situs" or "locus" of the cause of the victim's injuries and the discharge of the gun was unconnected to the inherent use of the motor vehicle. View "Patel v. LM General Insurance Co." on Justia Law

Posted in: Insurance Law

by
Restaurant Recycling filed suit against Employer Mutual, seeking a declaratory judgment that the insurer had a duty to defend and indemnify Restaurant Recycling. Restaurant Recycling was seeking a declaratory judgment and indemnity from an underlying lawsuit alleging that the company delivered defective shipments of recycled fat in which New Fashion Pork used as an ingredient in its swine feed. The court held that the total pollution exclusion in the insurance policy limited coverage in this case because the damage arose from dispersal of lasalocid, which Restaurant Recycling conceded was a pollutant. View "Restaurant Recycling, LLC v. Employer Mutual Casualty Co." on Justia Law

Posted in: Insurance Law

by
The parties agreed that the anti-stacking provision barred the insureds from recovering any money from Country Preferred for a car accident. The insureds contend that as a result, Country Preferred committed fraud and was unjustly enriched by collecting three separate premiums for underinsured motorist (UIM) coverage, when the anti-stacking provision rendered the UIM coverage in the insureds' second and third policies worthless or "illusory" under Missouri courts. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's dismissal of the fraudulent misrepresentation and unjust enrichment counterclaims, holding that the anti-stacking provisions did not render UIM coverage in multiple policies illusory because the premium paid for coverage under each policy corresponded with an increase in coverage. In this case, payment for UIM coverage under the insureds' second and third insurance policies buys coverage for non-named, non-family passengers and drivers of the insureds' second and third vehicles. View "Country Preferred Insurance Co. v. Lee" on Justia Law

Posted in: Insurance Law

by
The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's order finding that Prudential did not abuse its discretion when it terminated plaintiff's long term disability benefits. The court held that, although plaintiff presented some evidence that he was disabled, Prudential's decision to deny benefits was supported by substantial evidence. In this case, Prudential had evidence that plaintiff was deliberately exaggerating his symptoms, making it impossible to determine whether he had cognitive deficiencies that rendered him disabled. View "Johnston v. Prudential Insurance Co." on Justia Law

Posted in: Insurance Law

by
The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment to Strata's excess insurer, Houston Casualty, and denial of its cross-motion for summary judgment. After an employee was killed in a mine accident, his estate filed the underlying suit alleging that Strata's intentional failure to maintain a safe workplacae triggered an exception to the Montana Workers Compensation Act which provided the exclusive remedy for work injuries. The court held that the district court properly granted summary judgment to Houston Casualty because the excess insurance policy did not cover the estate's claims against Strata in the underlying suit. Therefore, Houston Casualty had no duty to indemnify Strata and thus it did not breach its duty of good faith. In this case, under the policy's plain and unambiguous language, coverage was subject to the Montana Intentional Acts Exclusion Endorsement. View "Houston Casualty Co. v. Strata Corp." on Justia Law

Posted in: Insurance Law

by
Defendant appealed the district court's vacatur of the arbitration award plaintiff received against his insurer, Great American, for wrongfully denying his claim for damage to his corn crop. The court vacated and remanded for further proceedings, holding that vacatur of the arbitration award was improper because the arbitrators rendered a sufficiently mutual, final, and definite award. The court held that the arbitration panel's failure to break down the award by county did not mean that it was so imperfectly executed such that it rendered no mutual, final, and definite award. The court also found that the panel's written explanation for the award amount was adequate. View "Great American Insurance Co. v. Russell" on Justia Law

by
The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for American Family, in an action brought by Clarke, alleging that the insurer wrongfully denied coverage for defense and indemnity of a lawsuit against Clarke in state court. The court held that the claims as pled in the underlying state court action did not give rise to a duty to defend under Iowa law, and no duty to indemnify could exist. In this case, the claims for damages caused by ice dams during the 2009-2010 winter did not rationally involve property damage that occurred before the policy expired in 2006. View "Clarke Co., Ltd. v. American Family Mutual Insurance Co." on Justia Law

Posted in: Insurance Law