Articles Posted in Insurance Law

by
This appeal concerned the guardianship of a ten-year-old child, Jane Doe II (“Jane”), whose parents passed away in 2017. A family friend petitioned for guardianship; Jane's aunt (twin sister of her mother) also petitioned for guardianship. A guardian ad litem recommended the friend be awarded temporary guardianship for Jane to finish the school year, then the aunt be permanent guardian. The friend appealed. The final decree appointing Aunt as Jane’s permanent guardian was vacated by the Idaho Supreme Court, which remanded the case for the magistrate court to conduct a hearing to determine whether Jane possessed sufficient maturity to direct her own attorney prior to a new trial. View "Western Community Ins v. Burks Tractor" on Justia Law

by
Appellant Jennifer Eastman sought a declaratory judgment that she was entitled to underinsured motorist insurance coverage (“UIM coverage”) under her auto insurance policy (the “Policy”) with Respondent Farmers Insurance Company (“Farmers”). Eastman was involved in a motor vehicle accident while traveling in a van operated by the Spokane Transit Authority (“STA”). Eastman sustained injuries as a result of the accident. Both the at-fault driver and STA held insurance policies. Eastman collected $50,000 from the at-fault driver’s insurance policy. Additionally, Eastman collected $48,846 in UIM coverage from STA’s insurance policy. Eastman’s special damages from the accident exceeded the amount that she collected from the two insurance policies. Eastman thereafter filed a claim with her insurer, Farmers, in an attempt to collect her own UIM coverage under the Policy. Specifically, Eastman sought her UIM coverage limit ($500,000) minus the $98,846 that she had already collected from the other insurance policies. Farmers denied Eastman’s claim based on an exclusion within the Policy which eliminated UIM coverage in situations where the insured was riding in another vehicle that had UIM coverage. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of Farmers, ruling that an exclusion contained in the Policy precluded UIM coverage for Eastman’s injuries. Finding that the clause in Eastman's policy violated Idaho's public policy, the Idaho Supreme Court vacated the district court's judgment and remanded this case with direction to invalidate the insurance exclusion at issue here. View "Eastman v. Farmers Insurance" on Justia Law

by
Ibrahim and Halida Ekic (the Ekics) and the estate of Aldina Ekic appealed district court decisions to grant summary judgment to Geico Indemnity Company (Geico) on their claims of breach of contract, misrepresentations in the inducement, breach of the duty of good faith and fair dealing, and promissory estoppel and to award attorney fees to Geico. Aldina was killed in an automobile accident caused by the negligence of a third party. The Ekics recovered the total policy proceeds of $25,000 from the third party’s insurance carrier. The Ekics demanded payment from Geico for the payment of $25,000 under Aldina’s underinsured motorist policy. Geico refused to issue a payment under the language of the policy. The Ekics filed suit. Sometime after Geico filed an answer, Geico filed a motion for summary judgment with a supporting affidavit from Geico’s counsel that included a copy of the Ekics’ answers to several interrogatories, a copy of Aldina’s Geico policy, and the vehicle collision report for the accident involving Aldina and the third party. The district court granted summary judgment for Geico on each of these claims. The Ekics then amended their complaint, with the permission of the district court, to add the additional claim of promissory estoppel and Geico filed an amended answer. Counsel for Geico advised the district court during a scheduling conference that Geico would be filing a motion for summary judgment on the additional claim. At the hearing, the district court granted Geico’s motion for summary judgment because the court found that “even viewing all the facts in light most favorable to the Plaintiff, there was no admissible evidence to support” their claim. The Ekics filed a motion to set aside the judgment which was denied by the district court. Geico requested attorney fees and the district court awarded them pursuant to Idaho Code section 41- 1839(4). The Ekics argued the district court erred in granting summary judgment in favor of Geico, but finding no such error, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed the district court's judgments. View "Ekic v. Geico" on Justia Law

by
Edgar and Laurie Cook owned 200 acres of property in Bonner County, Idaho. The Property included Bloom Lake, a cabin, and a campground. The Cooks allowed people to use the lake and campground without charging a fee, but they solicited voluntary donations to help with the Property’s upkeep. Approximately twenty years ago, Michael Chisholm asked the Cooks if he could stay in the cabin in exchange for maintaining the Property. They agreed, and Chisholm began caring for the Property. In 2015, Joseph Stanczak and his girlfriend were camping at the Property. Chisholm invited them into the cabin, and a dispute later arose between Chisholm and Stanczak. Chisholm shot Stanczak twice with a .45 caliber handgun, then left the scene. Authorities later apprehended Chisholm and charged him with Aggravated Battery and Use of a Deadly Weapon in Commission of a Felony. Chisholm entered an Alford plea, by which he pleaded guilty without admitting guilt as to all the elements of the crimes. He was sentenced to prison. At issue in this was was the interpretation of the insuring clause of a bodily injury liability provision in a property insurance contract. The insurer, Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Company of Idaho, determined it had no duty to defend or indemnify the Cooks because the shooting was not a covered act under the policy. Farm Bureau filed a declaratory judgment action seeking judicial confirmation of its determination. Farm Bureau then filed a motion for summary judgment, requesting that the district court find as a matter of law that the intentional shooting was not an “occurrence.” The district court granted Farm Bureau’s motion. Finding no reversible error in the district court's decision, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed judgment in favor of Farm Bureau. View "Farm Bureau Ins v. Cook" on Justia Law

by
This was an insurance bad faith case arising out of a claim for underinsured motorist coverage. In May 2008, Peggy Cedillo was injured in a collision while riding as a passenger on the back of a motorcycle. About a year after the collision, she settled her claim against the motorcycle driver for $105,000, the total amount available under his insurance policy. Cedillo married the motorcycle driver about eight months after the collision, and he was her lawyer in this lawsuit and designated as one of her experts. Cedillo claimed the district court erred when it: (1) granted summary judgment in favor of Farmers on her bad faith claim; (2) denied discovery of the entirety of Farmers’ claims file and certain electronic information; and (3) denied a motion to amend her complaint to include a claim for punitive damages. The Idaho Supreme Court, after review of the terms of the insurance contract and the district court record, affirmed the grant of summary judgment on Farmers’ motion relating to the bad faith claim: “General conclusions about Farmer’s conduct do not provide the facts needed to overcome summary judgment on the ‘fairly debatable’ element. Thus, the district court did not err in granting Farmers’ motion for summary judgment.” View "Cedillo v. Farmers Ins. Co. of Idaho" on Justia Law

by
While employed by Zing LLC, Josue Barrios (“Claimant”) was totally and permanently disabled as a result of an industrial accident when he fell about twelve feet from a ladder and hit his head face first on a concrete floor. He suffered multiple facial fractures, a frontal bone fracture, the loss of sight in his left eye, and a severe traumatic brain injury that caused a major neurocognitive disorder and speech language deficits. This case was an appeal of an Industrial Commission order requiring an employer and its surety to pay the cost of a guardian and a conservator for Barrios. Finding no reversible error in the Commission's order, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed. View "Barrios v. Zing, LLC" on Justia Law

by
This appeal arose out of an agent contract dispute between Bret Kunz (“Bret”) and Nield, Inc. (“N.I.”) authorizing Bret to sell insurance on behalf of N.I. N.I. is owned by two brothers, Bryan Nield (“Bryan”) and Benjamin Nield. A dispute arose concerning the method and type of compensation available to Bret under the Contract. Bret filed a complaint seeking, inter alia, a declaratory judgment interpreting the Contract. The district court held the 2009 Contract did not provide for profit sharing as Bret claimed. Bret and his wife, Marti, (collectively, the “Kunzes”) appealed. Finding no reversible errors with respect to how the district court interpreted the Contract, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed. View "Kunz v. Nield, Inc." on Justia Law

by
Ashley Palmer (Palmer) and Stephen Palmer appealed a district court’s order granting Lisa Ellefson’s motion for a new trial under Idaho Rule of Civil Procedure 59(a)(6). Ellefson was involved in an automobile accident caused by Palmer. A jury found that Ellefson was not injured in the accident. However, the district court determined that the jury verdict of “no injury” was against the clear weight of evidence and granted a new trial subject to an additur in the amount of $50,000. On appeal, Palmer argued that the district court abused its discretion in granting the new trial and in setting additur at $50,000. Finding no such error, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed. View "Ellefson v. Palmer" on Justia Law

by
Plaintiff’s action to recover under an insurance policy for the loss of her house caused when a renter (who had an option to purchase) demolished it. The trial court determined the insurance policy at issue excluded for such a loss. Within two months of renting the property, plaintiff learned the renter demolished the house. The renter agreed to rebuild a house on the remaining foundation. The renter started, but did not finish, rebuilding the house. Plaintiff thereafter made a claim on her insurance policy. The Idaho Supreme Court found after review of this matter, that the words in an insurance policy were to be given the meaning applied by lay people in daily usage. One such clause implicated the intentional destruction of the house as compared to accidental loss or inadequate remodeling. The renter’s actions in demolishing plaintiff’s house down to the foundation would not be considered by lay people as the “remodeling” of the house. He did not make alterations to an existing structure; he demolished that structure. There was no house left to remodel. Plaintiff had authorized the renter to perform some remodeling, such as installing new flooring, countertops, light fixtures, paint and other cosmetic improvements, but there was no evidence in the record that he did any remodeling at all, much less that the direct cause of the loss of the Plaintiff’s house was caused by any remodeling that had been done. Accordingly, the Supreme Court affirmed the trial court’s judgment in favor of the insurance company. View "Fisher v. Garrison Property & Casualty Ins. Co." on Justia Law

by
The Idaho Supreme Court concluded the district court erred in determining that the insurer did not breach its insurance contract with its insureds, and in dismissing the insureds’ bad faith claim that resulted from that determination. Plaintiffs Joel and Kathleen Harmon filed a claim with their insurance company, State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co., after their motorhome was broken into and damaged. The Harmons subsequently brought suit against State Farm in district court, claiming that State Farm breached the insurance agreement by failing to pay the amount required to actually repair the vehicle or pay the cash value. The Harmons also brought a claim for bad faith. State Farm moved for summary judgment on both claims, which the district court granted. The case was remanded for further proceedings. View "Harmon v. State Farm Mutual Auto Ins Co." on Justia Law