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

February 2018 Archives

Failure To Keep Ime Doctor Updated On Plaintiff's Condition Can Foreclose Application Of Genuine Dispute Doctrine For Msj Purposes

California courts have adopted the Genuine Dispute Doctrine. Chateau Chamberay Homeowners Assn v. Associated Internat. Ins. Co., (2001) 90 Cal. App. 4th 335, 347, 108 Cal. Rptr. 2d 776 ("[A]n insurer denying or delaying the payment of policy benefits due to the existence of a genuine dispute with its insured as to the existence of coverage liability or the amount of the insured's coverage claim is not liable in bad faith even though it may be liable for breach of contract.") The Genuine Dispute Doctrine applies not only to disputes over insurance policy interpretation, but also to factual disputes. See, Wilson v. 21st Century Ins. Co., (2007) 42 Cal. 4th 713, 723, 68 Cal. Rptr. 3d 746, 171 P.3d 1082. However, the Genuine Dispute Doctrine will not relieve insurance companies from their obligation to thoroughly and fairly investigate, process, and evaluate the insured's claim. In determining whether a dispute is genuine and actually exists, the courts do not strive to determine which party is right as to the disputed matter, but only whether a reasonable and legitimate dispute actually exists. Chateau Chamberay, 90 Cal. App. 4th at 348, fn. 7, 108 Cal. Rptr. 2d 776. When a dispute is founded on a basis that is reasonable under all of the circumstances, it is a legitimate, genuine dispute. Wilson, 42 Cal. 4th at 724 fn. 7, 68 Cal. Rptr 3d 746. In determining the reasonableness of the insurance company's decisions and actions, the court looks to the state of the record at the time that the decision was made.

Good Samaritan Who Exits Vehicle To Assist Injured Person Still Occupies The Insured Vehicle For Um Purposes

The Rhode Island Supreme Court in Hudson v. GEICO Insurance Agency, Inc., 161 A.3d 1150 (R.I. 2017) recently held, as a matter of first impression, that a passenger riding in an insured vehicle who exited the vehicle in order to render assistance to accident victims as a good Samaritan continued to be an occupant of the insured vehicle when struck by another vehicle at the accident scene.

Rhode Island Supreme Court Enforces Suit Limitation Provision in Policy

In the past, Rhode Island courts have upheld insurance policy provisions that require insureds to commence legal action against the insurance company within a time period that is less than the legislatively-enacted statute of limitations. See, e.g., National Refrigeration, Inc. v. Travelers Indemnity Co. of America, 947 A.2d 906, 912 (R.I. 2008) (two-year limitation provision upheld; Hay v. Pawtucket Mutual Insurance Co., 824 A.2d 458, 460, 461 (R.I. 2003) (Rhode Island courts "have long adhered to the validity of limitations provisions in insurance contracts"). Recently, the Rhode Island Supreme Court in Chase v. Nationwide Mutual Fire Insurance Co., 160 A.3d 970 (2017) demonstrated that suit limitation provisions will be enforced under Rhode Island law, even though they may be less than the applicable statute of limitations provided that no estoppel exists.

Minnesota Supreme Court Rules that Statutory Attorney's Fees are Capped by the Policy Limit

The question of whether attorney's fees awarded under Minnesota's insurance unreasonable denial statute could exceed the policy limits of the policy was recently addressed by the Minnesota Supreme Court in Wilbur v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co., 892 NW2d 521 (2017). Under Minnesota statute, Minn. Stat. §604.18 (2016) courts were authorized to award "taxable costs" when an insurance company denies insurance benefits without a reasonable basis. The issue of whether the taxable cost award was kept by the insurance policy limit recently came before the Minnesota Supreme Court. The court in Wilbur concluded that §604.18 unambiguously capped "proceeds awarded" at the amount recoverable under the insurance policy and were therefore capped by the policy limit.

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