In an opinion filed on March 8, the California Court of Appeal, Second District, reversed a jury verdict against an insurer because the jury failed to make an explicit finding that the insurer acted unreasonably in some respect. In Alexander Pinto v. Farmers Ins. Exch., Case No. B295742, the court held that a bad faith claim requires a finding that the insurer acted unreasonably in some respect. Because the jury made no such finding (because the verdict form lacked any question asking the jury to make such a finding), the court vacated the verdict in favor of the insured and remanded the case for further proceedings.
The coverage dispute arose out of a single-car traffic accident. The victim offered to settle his claim against the vehicle owner in exchange for payment of the vehicle owner’s insurance policy limits. The offer lapsed before the insurer accepted it. The victim then obtained a judgment in excess of the vehicle owner’s insurance policy limits. The vehicle owner then assigned her claims against the insurer to the victim. The victim then sued the insurer alleging that the insurer should be held liable for its alleged bad faith failure to settle. The victim prevailed at trial against the insurer.
At issue in the appeal was the lack of an express finding by the jury that the insurer had acted unreasonably (again, the lack of an express finding was because the jury had not been asked this question on the verdict form). The court explained, “[t]he issue is whether, in the context of a third party insurance claim, failing to accept a reasonable settlement offer constitutes bad faith per se. We conclude it does not.”
Continue reading “Rejection of Reasonable Settlement in Third Party Insurance Claim Not Per Se Unreasonable”
As we wrote earlier this week, legislators continue their efforts to address the enormous cost of business continuity losses. Most recently, Representative Mike Thompson of California, introduced H.R.6494, labeled the “Business Interruption Insurance Coverage Act of 2020”. Continue reading “Congress Proposes Bill for Coronavirus Business Interruption Insurance Coverage”
Duane Morris is pleased to announce that Cyndie M. Chang, was honored by the Asian Pacific American Women Lawyers Association for being the first female managing partner of a major Los Angeles area firm. Cyndie M. Chang, managing partner of Duane Morris’ Los Angeles office, litigates complex business and commercial disputes involving contracts, unfair competition, trademark, trade secrets, products liability, broker disputes, entertainment and real estate law.
Ms. Chang was recognized by the Daily Journal as one of the 2014 Top 100 Women Lawyers in California. Best Lawyers Magazine, Spring Edition 2016, profiled Ms. Chang as one of 15 women in the legal profession leading the charge for achievements in the practice and policy, on both local and national levels. The Recorder named Ms. Chang a “2013 Lawyer on the Fast Track.” Ms. Chang was also named in the Lawyers of Color Inaugural Hot List, which honored 100 early-to-mid-career minority attorneys for excellence in the legal profession. In addition, Ms. Chang was named among the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (“NAPABA”) 2010 “Best Lawyers under 40,” awarded to 20 lawyers across the country. Continue reading “Duane Morris Los Angeles Managing Partner Cyndie M. Chang Honored by the APAWLA”
The California Court of Appeal for the Fourth District, Division Two, in 21st Century Ins. Co. v. Superior Court (Tapia), ___ Cal.App.4th ___ (No. E062244, September 10, 2015), recently confirmed some of the important protections for defending insurers against stipulated judgments that were established in the Hamilton and Safeco decisions and limited the application of other decisions that have been relied on by claimants and policyholders seeking to get around the Hamilton rule against bad faith actions premised on such stipulated judgments. Continue reading “Protections Against Defended Policyholder Manufacturing Bad Faith Case Via Stipulated Judgment Confirmed By California Court”
Today the California Supreme Court issued its decision in Fluor Corporation v. Superior Court. In a unanimous decision, authored by the Chief Justice, the Court rejected the enforceability of “consent to assignment” clauses as a bar to coverage when the loss pre-dates the assignment, based on California Insurance Code section 520, and overruled its prior decision in Henkel Corp. v. Hartford Acc. & Indem. Co. (2003) 29 Cal.4th 934.
Continue reading “California Supreme Court Issues Fluor Decision, Reverses Henkel Anti-Assignment Rule”
Duane Morris partner Paul J. Killion of the firm’s San Francisco office has recently been appointed chair of the California State Bar’s Committee on Appellate Courts for the term commencing at the close of the 2015 State Bar Annual Meeting on October 11, 2015.
Killion is a Certified Appellate Specialist and practices in the area of complex civil litigation. He has argued or briefed over 100 appellate matters, including appeals, writs, petitions for review, merits briefing and amicus curiae briefing. He has handled a variety of litigation and appeals, including significant national experience in asbestos, pollution, toxic tort insurance coverage litigation and large personal injury claims. He has a broad range of appellate experience, with a particular focus on appeals from complex jury trials. Killion has appeared before all Districts of the California Courts of Appeal and before the California Supreme Court, as well as the Ninth and Tenth Circuits and the Supreme Courts of Washington and Oregon. He also represents clients as amici counsel in the California Supreme Court and Courts of Appeal.
Duane Morris’ Cyndie M. Chang, a partner in the firm’s Los Angeles office, will be speaking at the American Bar Association (ABA) Tort Trial and Insurance Practice Section’s spring conference, “Resolution of Property Insurance Claims in the Modern Age-Appraisal, Mediation and Arbitration,” which will be held on April 24-26, 2014, at the Park Hyatt Aviara in Carlsbad, California. Ms. Chang will participate in a panel discussion on “Mock Mediation of a Property Insurance Claim: Focusing on Preparation as the Key to Success” on Thursday, April 24, from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Continue reading “Duane Morris Partner Cyndie Chang to Present at the ABA Tort Trial and Insurance Practice Section’s Spring Conference”
The Second District Court of Appeal has issued an important new opinion that adds to this year’s series of California appellate decisions on when an insurer owes its policyholder a duty to pay for independent defense counsel, in Swanson v. State Farm General Ins. Co., ___ Cal. App.4th ___ (2013). In Swanson, the Court of Appeal found that an insurer that had issued to its policyholder a reservation of the right to deny coverage that gave rise to the type of conflict that creates a right to independent counsel under California Civil Code section 2860 (“Cumis counsel”) could end that duty by withdrawing that portion of the reservation of rights that created the right to have the insurer pay for such counsel. Continue reading “Controlling Cumis – California Court Confirms that Right to Independent Counsel Can be Terminated by Withdrawing ROR”
In what is the first trial court ruling in California on the issue, to our knowledge, the San Francisco Superior Court on January 31, 2013 issued a ruling adopting the Wallace & Gale approach to the completed operations issue for asbestos claims. The decision was issued by San Francisco Superior Court Judge John E. Munter in Phase III of Plant Insulation Co. v. Fireman’s Fund Insurance Co., et al., a multi-phase declaratory relief action pending in San Francisco.
Continue reading “San Francisco Trial Court Is First California Court To Adopt The Wallace & Gale Approach To Asbestos Operations Claims”
A California federal court recently issued a summary judgment ruling after interpreting two “other insurance” clauses in California State Automobile Inter-Insurance Bureau v. Progressive Casualty Insurance Company, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 57996 (N.D. Cal, April 25, 2012). One insurer argued that the “other insurance” clauses conflicted with each other, but the Court disagreed and found no conflict where one other insurance clause specifically provided for excess coverage in certain circumstances.
The policyholder had a homeowner’s insurance policy with California State Automobile Inter-Insurance Bureau (“AAA”) and a watercraft policy with Progressive Casualty Insurance Company (“Progressive”). Both issued liability limits of $500,000.
Continue reading “California Federal Court Finds No Conflict with Allegedly Competing Other Insurance Clauses”