Steven Plitt, Expert Witness Steven Plitt, Expert Witness
Insurance Bad Faith Claim Handling Expert Serving Clients Nationwide

Bad Faith Archives

INSURANCE COMPANY RELIANCE UPON IME REPORT TO SUPPORT RULE 12 B6 MOTION TO DISMISS IN BAD FAITH CASE DID NOT REQUIRE DISMISSAL

The South Dakota Supreme Court in Mordhorst v. Dakota Truck Underwriters and Risk Administrative Services 886 N.W.2d 322 (S.D 2016) recently found that a rule 12-B6 motion to dismiss was not appropriate in a worker's compensation bad faith case notwithstanding the insurer's reliance upon an IME report finding that the injured employee was not injured.

A 10-to-1 RATIO OF COMPENSATORY DAMAGES TO PUNITIVE DAMAGES WAS RECENTLY PERMITTED BY THE CALIFORNIA COURT OF APPEALS IN AN INSURANCE BAD FAITH CASE

The California court of appeals in Nickerson v. Stonebridge Insurance Co. 5 Cal App, 5th 1,209 Cal Rptr. 3d 690 (2d Dist., November 3, 2016) recently found that the Court was constrained by case law in California and the California constitution from allowing a punitive damage award to be more than 10 times greater than the compensatory damage award. In calculating the compensatory damage award within the ratios denominator, the trail court properly excluded and the court of appeals held that it was proper to excluded contract damages and potential damages to others from the equation. However, the court found that the award of attorney fees in favor of the insured and compelling the insurer to pay contract benefits (so called Brandt fees) should be included in the ratios denominator.

THE CALIFORNIA COURT OF APPEALS FINDS THAT A 10:1 RATIO OF COMPENSATORY DAMAGES TO PUNITIVE DAMAGES IS APPROPRIATE IN AN INSURANCE BAD FAITH CASE AND THAT THE RATIO SHOULD BE NO HIGHER

In Nickerson v. Stonebridge Life Ins. Co., 5 Cal.App.5th 1, 209 Cal.Rptr.3d 690 (2nd Dist. 2016), the California Court of Appeals recently reduced a $19M punitive damages award in an insurance bad faith case to $475,000 applying a 10:1 ratio of compensatory damages to punitive damages.

IN THE STATE OF WASHINGTON INSUREDS DO NOT WAIVE ATTORNEY-CLIENT AND WORK-PRODUCT PRIVILEGES WHEN THEY SEEK THE COURT'S APPROVAL OF A COVENANT JUDGMENT SETTLEMENT WHICH ASSIGNS TO THE ADVERSE PARTY THE INSURED'S BAD FAITH CLAIM AGAINST THE INSURER

In Steel v. Philadelphia Indemnity Ins. Co., 195 Wash.App. 811, 381 P.3d 111 (Wash. App. 2016), the Washington Court of Appeals held that insurance companies do not waive attorney-client privilege or work product protection when their insured enters into a covenant judgment settlement that is subject to judicial determination as to reasonableness. In Steel, a day care center's employee was convicted of child rape and child molestation of two children at the day care center. At the time, the defendants were insured under a Philadelphia Indemnity policy providing $1M in coverage. Plaintiffs offered to settle their claims for $4M which was rejected by Philadelphia. Shortly before trial was scheduled to begin, the insureds entered into a $25M covenant judgment settlement with the plaintiffs, receiving a covenant not to execute in return, for an assignment of the insureds' bad faith claims against Philadelphia.

CALIFORNIA COURT OF APPEALS FINDS THAT AN EXCESS INSURER CAN SUE A PRIMARY INSURER FOR BAD FAITH FAILURE TO SETTLE UNDER AN EQUITABLE CONTRIBUTION THEORY TO RECOVER THE EXCESS INSURER'S CONTRIBUTION TO SETTLEMENT OF A CLAIM AGAINST THE INSURED

The California Court of Appeals recently held that an excess judgment was not a necessary element to an equitable subrogation claim brought by an excess insurer against a primary insurer when the primary insurer failed to settle the underlying case. In ACE American Ins. Co. v. Fireman's Fund, 2 Cal.App.5th 159, 206 Cal.Rptr.3d 176 (2d Dist. 2016), the Court held that the excess insurer could sue the underlying primary insurer for bad faith failure to settle under equitable contribution when the excess insurer contributed to a settlement of the claim against its insured. In this case, the Court held that the absence of a litigated judgment did not preclude the excess insurer from establishing the damages element of a claim for bad faith failure to settle under an equitable subrogation theory. The Court held that an excess insurer, when faced with a primary insurer's unreasonable refusal to pay a settlement demand within policy limits could contribute to the settlement on behalf of its insured and then sue the primary insurer to recover the amount of the settlement.

THE 10TH CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS FINDS THAT COLORADO'S "FAIRLY DEBATABLE" DEFENSE IS NOT ABSOLUTE

In The Home Loan Investment Co. v. St. Paul Mercury Ins. Co., 827 F.3d 1256 (10th Cir. 2016), the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals held that a property insurance company's denial of a fairly debatable claim was not per se reasonable. The insurer, St. Paul Mercury Ins. Co., argued that because its coverage decision was "fairly debatable," it was, as a matter of law, not unreasonable. St. Paul argued that a claim's fair debatability was outcome determinative because, under Colorado law, an insurance company could not act unreasonably in denying a fairly debatable claim. In response, the insured argued that a claim's "fair debatability" was merely one factor in the overall analysis of whether the insurer acted reasonably in delaying or denying coverage. The Tenth Circuit rejected St. Paul's argument.

INSURANCE COMPANIES HAGGLING OVER RELEASE LANGUAGE CAN RESULT IN BAD FAITH LIABILITY

In Barickman v. Mercury Cas. Co., 2 Cal.App.5th 508, 206 Cal.Rptr.3d 699 (2d Dist. 2016), an insurance company's refusal to consent to additional release language which was designed to preserve the claimant's rights to receive criminal restitution from the insured tortfeasor caused the case not to settle and, as a result, it was found that the insurance company breached the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing by not doing all that it could do within its power to effectuate the settlement.

SECOND CIRCUIT HOLDS THAT ADVERTISING INJURY COVERAGE DOES NOT APPLY TO THE SALE OF COUNTERFEIT BRANDED GOODS

The United States Second Circuit Court of Appeals recently held that the selling of goods with a counterfeit brand label did not constitute covered advertising injury. In U.S. Fidelity & Guar. Co. v. Fendi Adele S.R.I., 823 F.3d 146 (2d Cir. 2016), the insured, Ashley Reed Trading, Inc. was in the business of purchasing and selling off-price branded handbags and other luxury goods. Ashley Reed was insured by USF&G which provided coverage for defined "advertising injury." The policy defined "advertising injury" as "attracting the attention of others by any means for the purpose of seeking customers or supporters or increasing sales or business." The policy set forth four advertising injury offenses, including the "use of another's advertising idea" or other "advertising" and the "infringement of another's copyright, trade dress or slogan in your 'advertising.'"

The Ninth Circuit Court Of Appeals Finds That The Absence Of A Litigated Judgment Did Not Preclude An Equitable Subrogation Claim From Being Brought By An Excess Insurer For Bad Faith Failure To Settle

In RSUI Indemnity Co. v. Discovery P&C Ins. Co., 649 Fed.Appx. 534 (9th Cir. 2016), the primary insurer unreasonably had refused to pay a settlement demand within policy limits. In order to achieve a settlement, the excess insurer paid a portion of the settlement within its policy limits. The question before the Court was whether an excess insurance company could contribute to the settlement on behalf of the insured, and then sue the primary insurer to recover the amount of the settlement under the theory of equitable subrogation. The Ninth Circuit answered that question in the affirmative.

In A Self-Evident Decision, The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals Recently Held That An Insurance Company's Failure To Re-Evaluate A Case Value After The Trial Court Eliminated A Key Affirmative Defense Justified A Bad Faith Failure To Settle Verdict

The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals in Bamford, Inc. v. Regent Ins. Co., 822 F.3d 403 (8th Cir. 2016), held that the District Court had properly denied an insurance company's post-verdict motions challenging the jury's verdict in a bad faith failure to settle case and the evidence demonstrated that the insurer had failed to re-evaluate its settlement position after a trial court ruling in the underlying case eliminated a key affirmative defense. The Eighth Circuit Court noted that the insurance company's evidence that it had made multiple efforts to settle the case based on its evaluation of the case, continuously increased its reserves and offers in the settlement process, had followed the advice and valuations of the case of outside counsel as well as two mediators, and had discussed the claim value in multiple roundtable meetings with senior management was nevertheless insufficient to establish that the insurance company acted in good faith as a matter of law because the insurance company did not factor into its evaluation the trial court's elimination of a key affirmative defense.

FindLaw Network

Contact Steven Plitt

Bold labels are required.

Contact Information
disclaimer.

The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.

close

Privacy Policy

Phone: 602-322-4038