SNR Denton on Texas Mutual Insurance Co. v. Ruttiger: Texas Limits Extracontractual Claims Regarding Workers Compensation Benefits

By William T. Barker, Partner, SNR Denton In Texas Mutual Insurance Co. v. Ruttiger ,[1] the Texas Supreme Court limited the estracontractual claims available to injured workers regarding payment of workers compensation benefits and foreshadowed the likely elimination of those remedies. This commentary...

SNR Denton on Lennar Corp. v. Transamerica Insurance Co.: Does a Right to Independent Counsel Entitle the Policyholder to Two Lawyers?

By William T. Barker, Partner, SNR Denton Lennar Corp. v. Transamerica Insurance Co. addressed the novel question whether an policyholder entitled to independent counsel could both accept representation by the counsel selected by the insurer and insist on payment of its own selected counsel as co...

SNR Denton on Fred Shearer & Sons, Inc. v. Gemini Insurance Co.: Oregon Allows Use of Extrinsic Evidence To Determine Whether a Defendant is Insured

By William T. Barker & Ronald D. Kent, Partners, SNR Denton An insurer's duty to defend is usually determined based on the facts alleged within the four corners of the complaint against the insured. Various jurisdictions allow or require consideration of other evidence ("extrinsic evidence"...

SNR Denton on Kartman v. State Farm: Claim Handling Class Actions and Bad Faith Without Coverage Take Another Hit

By William T. Barker, Partner, SNR Denton In Kartman v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co. [1], the Seventh Circuit reversed certification of a class action for allegedly improper adjustment of claims for hailstorm damage to insureds' roofs. In the process, it added weight to the already...

SNR Denton on Nevels v. Deerbrook Insurance Co.: Expert Opinion in Bad Faith Case Admissible Only to Extent of Proper Basis

By William T. Barker, Partner, SNR Denton In Nevels v. Deerbrook Insurance Co., the court held an expert could testify that the insurer should have sooner offered the policy limit, but would not be permitted to testify that failure to do so was bad faith or on what a jury would have awarded. This commentary...

SNR Denton on Oubre v. Citizens Insurance Co.: Louisiana Supreme Court Clarifies Penalty Statutes

By William T. Barker, Partner, SNR Denton In Oubre v. Citizens Insurance Co., a divided Louisiana Supreme Court resolved a split in the courts of appeals by holding that the statutory penalty for an insurer's failure to timely initiate loss adjustment may be assessed without any showing that...

SNR Denton on DeMarco v. Travelers Insurance Co.: Insurer Faced with Multiple Claims Exceeding Policy Limits Must Seek to Minimize Insured’s Financial Exposure

By William T. Barker, Partner, SNR Denton DeMarco v. Travelers Insurance Co. applied Rhode Island's unique standard for an insurer's duty to settle to multiple claims exceeding limits. In doing so, it adopted the minority rule that such an insurer must seek to minimize insured's financial...

SNR Denton on James River Insurance Co v. Rapid Funding, Inc.: Inadmissible Expert Opinions May Not Be Presented as Lay Opinions

By William T. Barker, Partner, SNR Denton Expert opinions are admissible only if they satisfy usually stringent standards. But lay opinions are admissible in some circumstances. In James River Insurance Co v. Rapid Funding, Inc., 658 F.3d 1207 (10th Cir. 2011), an insurance bad faith case, the...

SNR Denton US LLP on Illinois School District Agency v. The St. Charles Community Unit School District 303: Illinois Appellate Court Rejects “Selective Tender” Rule for Chronologically Consecutive Insurance Policies

By Daniel E. Feinberg, Counsel, SNR Denton In Illinois School District Agency v. The St. Charles Community Unit School District 303 , 2012 Ill. App. LEXIS 242 (Ill. Ct. App. Mar. 30, 2012), the Illinois Appellate Court held that Illinois' "selective tender" rule does not apply in cases...

SNR Denton on Seventh Circuit Holds That Where Policy Language Was Not Clear, Insurer Had Duty to Defend Even Though Self-Insured Retention (SIR) Was Not Exhausted; Denial of Defense Was Vexatious

By William T. Barker, Partner, SNR Denton Ordinarily, when a liability policy has a self-insured retention ("SIR"), the insurer's duty to defend does not attach until the SIR is exhausted. But, in American Safety Casualty Insurance Co. v. City of Waukegan, 2012 U.S. App. LEXIS 5496...

SNR Denton LLP on Maxwell v. Hartford Union High School District: Wisconsin Supreme Court Rejects Broadening Coverage by Estoppel but Approves Forfeiture of Coverage Defenses for Breach of Duty to Defend

By William T. Barker, Partner, SNR Denton Most jurisdictions hold that a liability insurer that assumes control of its insured's defense without reserving a right to deny indemnity can be estopped from asserting indemnity coverage defenses that it knew or should have known about but failed...

SNR Denton, US, LLP on Downhole Navigator, LLC v. Nautilus Insurance Co.: Fifth Circuit Concludes That Texas No Longer Allows a Policyholder to Demand Independent Counsel Merely Because the Insurer Offers a Defense under Reservation of Rights

By William T. Barker, Partner, SNR Denton Older Texas cases had indicated that, whenever a liability insurer offered a defense under reservation of rights, the insured was entitled to demand defense by independent counsel, at the insurer's expense. In Downhole Navigator, LLC v. Nautilus Insurance...

SNR Denton, US, LLP on Nease v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co.: Liability Insurer May Have Duty to Hire Counsel to Advise Insured Whether to Give Statement to Claimant’s Counsel

By William T. Barker & Ronald D. Kent, Partners, SNR Denton In Nease v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co., an excess insurance case, State Farm promptly tendered its $25,000 limits. The claimant's attorney requested a statement regarding other possible sources of recovery. The...

SNR Denton, US, LLP on Berg v. Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co.: Pennsylvania Court Finds Amount Insurer Paid to Defend Coverage Case Admissible Evidence of Bad Faith

By William T. Barker & Ronald D. Kent, Partners, SNR Denton Berg v. Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co. , 2012 PA SUPER 88, 2012 Pa. Super LEXIS 169, held that Nationwide could be held liable for bad faith in administering its auto damage direct repair program, in part based on violations of an...

Bad Faith in the Context of First-Party Insurance – New Appleman on Insurance Law Library Edition, Chapter 55

By William T. Barker, Partner, SNR Denton The insurer's duty of good faith, and the liabilities that flow from breach of that duty, play an important role in insurance law. The duty was first developed in the context of liability insurance to limit the insurer's discretion in exercising...

SNR Denton LLP on Lennar Corp. v. Transamerica Insurance Co.: Whither Bad Faith in Arizona?

By William T. Barker & Ronald D. Kent, Partners, SNR Denton This commentary examines a potentially pivotal court decision in the law of bad faith and its implications. The Arizona Court of Appeals in Lennar Corp. v. Transamerica Insurance Co. held that a later-reversed trial court summary judgment...

SNR Denton US LLP on Metropolitan Property & Casualty Insurance Co. v. Stranczek: Business Pursuits Exclusion Does Not Depend on Subjective Profit

By William T. Barker and Daniel E. Feinberg, Attorneys, SNR Denton Homeowners' insurance commonly excludes coverage for the insured's "business pursuits," often said to be those involving (1) a continuous or regular activity, (2) done for the purpose of earning a profit. Chester...

SNR Denton US LLP on Miller v. Safeco Insurance Co. of Am.: Insurer May Not Enforce Exclusions in Newly Issued Property Insurance Policy If Insured Not Notified of Those Exclusions Before Discovering the Loss

By William T. Barker, Partner, SNR Denton LLP The Millers purchased a home with severe preexisting water and mold damage which they and their home inspector failed to detect. In Miller v. Safeco Insurance Co of Am., the Seventh Circuit held that the loss had not manifested itself until after the...

SNR Denton LLP on Great American Excess & Surplus Insurance Co. v. Quintairos, Prieto, Wood & Boyer, P.A.: Excess Insurer Can Sue Appointed Defense Counsel for Malpractice

By William T. Barker, Partner, SNR Denton LLP In Great American Excess & Surplus Insurance Co. v. Quintairos, Prieto, Wood & Boyer, P.A., the Mississippi Supreme Court adopted the opinion of a divided Mississippi Court of Appeals holding (on an issue that has divided other jurisdictions...

SNR Denton US LLP on Does Pennsylvania Law Impose Liability for Bad Faith Without a Duty to Provide Coverage?

By William T. Barker & Ronald D. Kent, Partners, SNR Denton In Post v. St. Paul Travelers Insurance Co., 691 F.3d 500 (3d Cir. 2012), the Third Circuit, discussing a prior, nonprecedential Third Circuit case, Gallatin Fuels, Inc. v. Westchester Fire Ins. Co. , 2007 U.S. App. LEXIS 19069 (3d Cir...

SNR Denton LLP on Hoover v. Maxum Indemnity Co.: Georgia Supreme Court Seems To Hold That Liability Insurance Disclaimer on One Ground Forfeits Other Grounds

By Ronald D. Kent, Partner, SNR Denton In Hoover v. Maxum Indemnity Co., the Georgia Supreme Court held that a liability insurance coverage disclaimer could not reserve a right to assert additional grounds later. If taken literally, this apparently places Georgia in a small minority of jurisdictions...

SNR Denton LLP on Pedicini v. Life Insurance Co. of Alabama: Insurer Acted in Bad Faith by Refusing To Recognize Ambiguity of Policy Language

By William T. Barker & Ronald D. Kent, Partners, SNR Denton In Pedicini v. Life Insurance Co. of Alabama, 682 F.3d 522 (6th Cir. 2012), the Sixth Circuit held that the relevant language in a medical insurance policy was ambiguous and further held that the insurer had acted in bad faith by refusing...

SNR Denton LLP on Jones v. Farmers Insurance Exchange: Whether Insurer's Position Is Fairly Debatable Not Always Susceptible to Summary Judgment

By William T. Barker, Partner, SNR Denton LLP In Jones v. Farmers Insurance Exchange, the Utah Supreme Court held that the district court had erred in granting summary judgment that the insurer's denial of coverage was "fairly debatable" and, thus, not bad faith. This reflects a trend...

Dentons, U.S., LLC on Colony Insurance Co. v. Burke: Foster Child Is Not Entitled To Make Direct Claim on Liability Insurance State Purchased for Foster Parents

By William T. Barker, Partner, SNR Denton LLP The Estate of Aurora Espinal-Cruz obtained a $20 million wrongful-death judgment against Deanza Jones, who had been Aurora's foster parent, after Jones's insurers had refused a $600,000 policy limits demand. Jones agreed to pursue the insurers...

SNR Denton on National Surety Corp. v. Hartford Casualty Insurance Co.: No Insurer Liability for Failure To Settle Absent Outrageous Conduct

By William T. Barker, Partner, SNR Denton LLP At one time, Kentucky held that an insurer would be liable to its insured for an excess judgment if the insurer's failure to settle exposed the insured to an unreasonable risk of such a judgment. Language in first-party bad faith cases suggests...