Mississippi Rejects Blue Ridge Doctrine

On Behalf of | Sep 5, 2019 | Insurance Law

In Colony Ins. Co. v. First Specialty Ins. Corp., 262 So. 3d 1128 (Miss. 2019) , the Mississippi Supreme Court, as a matter of first impression, found that a liability insurance company could not fund a settlement under a reservation of rights and then seek reimbursement of its payment from the insured. According to the Court, the insurance company must make a selection of either absorbing the settlement or rejecting the demand with the hopes that it would prevail on its declaratory judgment action. In so finding, the Court held that while a payment which is made under compulsion is not a voluntary payment, the mere threat of a lawsuit was not the type of compulsion that would render an insurance payment non-voluntary. Insurers should pursue a declaratory judgment action as a legal avenue for determining coverage obligations. Settling the case before receiving a ruling on the coverage obligations resulted in the insurer having no right to seek reimbursement of the settlement payment that it might not otherwise have been obligated to make.