On June 1, 2018, legislation affording new protections to insurers when interpleading policy limits was enacted. The legislation, known as HB 1531, amends R.S.Mo. § 507.060, which governs the joinder of parties in an interpleader action. Specifically, the amendment modifies existing language with insurance-specific terminology and adds five additional subsections with definitions, procedural mechanisms for interpleader, and rights and limitations of an interpleading insurer.
We cover current issues, highlights and best practices exclusively on claims of bad faith and extra contractual damages.
Tenth Circuit Affirmed Summary Judgment For Insurer On Bad Faith Claims After Finding Legitimate Dispute Of Coverage And No Evidence Of An Inadequate Investigation
The Tenth Circuit affirmed summary judgment in favor of State Farm on the insureds’ count for bad faith relating to a property damage claim. The court found State Farm relied upon a legitimate dispute of the scope of coverage in initially denying and delaying agreement to an appraisal. The court further found the insureds had produced no evidence to support their claim State Farm performed an inadequate investigation of the claim. The insureds disputed the findings of State Farm’s investigation was insufficient to infer the investigation was inadequate.
Montana recognizes several equitable exceptions to the American Rule regarding attorney fees in the area of insurance. The Montana Supreme Court has previously recognized a first-party insured can recover attorney’s fees based on the insurer’s breach of the duty to defend. This limited exception was then expanded to include cases where the insurer disputed coverage and the first-party insured incurred attorney’s fees litigating the coverage dispute and was successful in so doing. Now, in this UIM case involving Tonya Mlekush, the court has further extended the allowance of attorney’s fees to UIM claimants who recover more at trial than the last offer made by the insurer.
Kentucky High Court Upholds Bad Faith Determination Despite Reservation of Rights Defense and Filing Declaratory Judgment
James Demetre carried liability insurance on his vacant lot, which was previously a gas station. Demetre was notified that a family occupying a nearby residence was bringing environmental claims against him stemming from the alleged migration of petroleum from his property. Indiana Insurance Company provided a defense under a reservation of rights, sought declaratory judgment on its coverage dispute, and ultimately indemnified Demetre in relation to the final settlement. Nevertheless, Demetre sued Indiana Insurance for bad faith breach of his insurance contract. These claims went to trial and Demetre was awarded $925,000 in emotional distress damages and $2.5 million in punitive damages. The resultant question is: how is such a result possible?
The West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals found an insurer, who defended and settled claims brought by downhill homeowners against its insured, a residential construction company, was not liable for first party common law bad faith or statutory bad faith as a matter of law. State ex rel. State Auto Property Insurance Companies v. Stucky, -- S.E.2d -- , No. 17-0257, 2017 WL 4582607 (W.Va. Ct. Oct. 10, 2017) State Auto Property Insurance Companies (“State Auto”) issued a CGL policy to its insured, CMD Plus, Inc. (“CMD”), a residential construction company, with $1 million in policy limits. CMD contracted to build a custom home on a parcel of property uphill from and adjacent to property owned by Barry and Ann Evans (“Plaintiffs”).