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Bad Faith Blog

We cover current issues, highlights and best practices exclusively on claims of bad faith and extra contractual damages.

Bad Faith Blog
July 8, 2020

Indiana Court of Appeals Finds Legal Malpractice Claims are Not Assignable and Voluntarily Providing a Defense Does Not Create a Duty When No Duty to Defend Existed

The Court of Appeals of Indiana held legal malpractice claims are not assignable and affirmed dismissal of a claim against an insurer for vicarious liability for the alleged negligence of retained defense counsel. The Court additionally held when an insurer does not owe a duty to defend or indemnify, it cannot be held liable for a breach of the duty to defend if it voluntarily and gratuitously provided a defense anyway. 

Bad Faith Blog
May 26, 2020

Washington Supreme Court Holds Insurer that Breached its Duty to Defend in Bad Faith is Estopped from Denying Coverage Absent an Applicable Affirmative Defense

The insureds sued their title insurer alleging breach of the duty to defend after Indian tribes asserted their treaty right to harvest shellfish from insureds' tidelands. The Washington Supreme Court held an insurer’s breach of its duty to defend was in bad faith because the insurer’s arguable interpretation of Washington law was not consistent with the insurer’s obligation to provide its insured with the benefit of any doubt regarding a duty to defend.

Bad Faith Blog
February 26, 2018

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?

Bad Faith Blog
October 23, 2017

Missouri Appellate Court Holds Rental Car Company Is Not an Insurer and Not Liable for Bad Faith

Summary: A motorist, who was injured in an automobile accident with a rental car, brought a garnishment action against the renter and car rental company, seeking the $25,000.00 limit provided by the Motor Vehicle Responsibility Law (MVFRL). The renter filed a cross-claim against the car rental company alleging bad faith failure to settle and breach of contractual duty to defend. The trial court granted summary judgment for the car rental company and the renter appealed. On appeal, the Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District, found the rental car company did not have a duty to defend the renter and the rental car company did not commit bad faith in refusing to settle.

Bad Faith Blog
September 24, 2017

Montana Supreme Court: $300,000 Consent Judgment Proper

Summary: The seller of a home was insured under a Homeowner’s Policy and a Renter’s Policy issued by United Services Automobile Association (USAA). Past basement problems, including flooding, were not disclosed by the seller. The basement flooded after the buyer took possession, and buyer sued the seller. After USAA denied coverage, the parties reached a settlement wherein a consent judgment was entered for $300,000 in favor of Huckins in the underlying case and Huckins then filed suit against USAA for breach of the duty to defend Van Sickle, breach of contract, common law and statutory bad faith, and punitive damages. The District Court held that USAA had not breached its duty to defend, as the claim was not an “occurrence,” and the buyer appealed. The Montana Supreme Court reversed and held USAA had a duty to defend under the renter’s policy.