Articles Posted in Insurance Law

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At the summary judgment stage, the district court found that an employee of Greenwald Neurosurgical, P.C. caused over $100,000 in losses to the P.C., while he was acting in the ordinary course of the P.C.’s business. The district court then issued a judgment to the P.C. for the policy amount of $100,000 pursuant to a Dishonesty Bond issued by Western Surety Company. Western appealed the district court’s determinations that the employee caused the loss while acting in the ordinary course of business and that the P.C. actually suffered the loss. The P.C. cross-appealed the district court’s findings that it was the only entity insured under the bond and argued it was awarded too little by way of attorney’s fees. The Idaho Supreme Court determined: (1) the district court correctly concluded that only the P.C. was an insured and the only entity that could recover under the bond; (2) whether the employee was acting the “ordinary course of [the P.C.’s] business” was a jury question; (3) a genuine issue of fact existed regarding the amount of losses the P.C. sustained; and (4) the district court erred in awarding attorney’s fees to the P.C. The Supreme Court therefore vacated summary judgment, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Greenwald v. Western Surety" on Justia Law

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Appellants Ryan and Kathryn McFarland owned real property in Garden Valley, Idaho, which feathred three structures insured through Liberty Mutual Insurance Group: a main cabin; a detached garage with an upstairs “bonus room”; and a pump house containing a geothermal well. The policy provided two types of coverage for structures. Coverage A (“Dwelling Coverage”) provided up to $188,500 in coverage for “the dwelling on the ‘residence premises’. . . including structures attached to the dwelling . . .” and Coverage B (“Other Structures Coverage”) provided up to $22,350 for “other structures on the ‘residence premises’ set apart from the dwelling by clear space.” In February 2017, a radiant heater burst in the bonus room and damaged the garage and its contents. After the McFarlands filed a claim, Liberty stated that the damage was covered under the policy. Believing the damage to fall under the Dwelling Coverage, the McFarlands hired contractors to repair the damage. However, after Liberty paid out a total of $23,467.50 in March 2017, Liberty stated that the coverage was exhausted because the damage fell under the Other Structures Coverage. This led the McFarlands to sue, alleging among other claims, breach of contract based on Liberty’s interpretation of the policy. The parties filed cross motions for summary judgment on the issue of whether the damage fell under the Dwelling Coverage or the Other Structures Coverage. Ruling that the policy unambiguously provided coverage for the garage under the Other Structures Coverage, the district court denied the McFarlands’ motion and granted Liberty’s. The McFarlands appealed. Finding that the policy at issue here failed to define the term "dwelling", and the term was reasonably subject to differing interpretations, the Idaho Supreme Court reversed the award of summary judgment and remanded for further proceedings. View "McFarland v. Liberty Insurance Corp" on Justia Law

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This case stemmed from Truck Insurance’s refusal to defend its insured, Scout, LLC, in a trademark infringement action brought over Scout’s use of the trademark ROGUE in the advertisement of its restaurant, Gone Rogue Pub. Scout claimed its use of ROGUE constituted an advertising injury that was covered by the insurance it purchased from Truck Insurance. Truck Insurance did not dispute that ordinarily Scout’s advertising injury would be covered and it would accordingly have a duty to defend, but coverage was properly declined in this instance based on a prior publication exclusion found in the policy. The district court granted summary judgment to Truck Insurance after determining that a Facebook post of Scout’s Gone Rogue Pub logo before insurance coverage began triggered the prior publication exclusion, thereby relieving Truck Insurance of the duty to defend Scout. Scout appealed. Finding no reversible error, the Idaho Supreme Court affirmed the district court. View "Scout, LLC v. Truck Insurance" on Justia Law

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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