LexisNexis® Legal Newsroom
Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Jury Awards $4.1M To Mesothelioma Victim's Widow; Wire Maker 5 Percent Liable

ST LOUIS - A Missouri jury awarded $4.1 million to the widow of man who contracted mesothelioma after asbestos exposure as an electrician, holding the lone remaining defendant 5 percent liable, sources told Mealey Publications Feb. 1 (Jean Urbach v. The Okonite Co., No. 1122-CC-10636, Mo. Cir., St. Louis Co.).

Mealey's PI/Product Liability - New York Justice Grants In Part Subcontractors' Motion To Dismiss Contractor's Suit

NEW YORK - A New York state court justice on Jan. 29 granted motions by 15 subcontractors seeking dismissal of a general contractor's third-party claims for breach of contract and contractual indemnification, finding that two indemnification clauses in the contracts between the parties did not include language regarding faulty workmanship (Board of Managers of the 125th North 10th Condominium v. 125North10th LLC, et al., No. 14982/2012, N.Y. Sup., Kings Co.; 2016 N.Y. Misc. LEXIS 242).

Mealey's Banking & Finance - 5th Circuit Finds Borrower Breached Deed By Defaulting On Loan

NEW ORLEANS - The Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Jan. 29 affirmed a district court's decision to grant summary judgment for a bank on a borrower's breach of contract claim, finding that he breached the related deed of trust first when he defaulted on his loan payments (Mark Mahavier, as power of attorney for Willard Mahavier, v. PNC Bank, National Association, No. 15-50308, 5th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 1522).

Mealey's Insurance - Judge: Insureds Failed To Show That Insurer's Actions Were Arbitrary, Capricious

NEW ORLEANS - A federal judge in Louisiana on Jan. 28 granted summary judgment in favor of an insurer in an insurance breach of contract and bad faith lawsuit, ruling that insureds failed to show that the insurer acted arbitrarily, capriciously or without probable cause in withholding payment on a homeowners insurance policy claim (Rachel Dubois, et al. v. Southern Fidelity Insurance Co., No. 15-1097, E.D. La.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 10134).

Mealey's Labor & Employment - Judgment For Employer In Contract Dispute Upheld; Attorney Fees Reversed

SAN FRANCISCO - A California appeals court on Jan. 26 upheld a summary judgment ruling for an employer in a contract dispute but reversed the award of attorney fees, finding that the trial court improperly applied an outdated version of California Labor Code Section 218.5 (USS-POSCO Industries v. Floyd Case, Nos. A140457 and A142145, Calif. App., 1st Dist., Div. 1; 2016 Cal. App. LEXIS 49).

Mealey's Health Law - Aetna Prevails In 1 Wisconsin ERISA Case; Dismissal Denied in Another

MADISON, Wis. - A challenge by the University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority (UWHCA) of an insurer's denial of payment was rejected on summary judgment Jan. 25 by a Wisconsin federal judge in light of an anti-assignment provision in the parties' contract; the same day, UWHCA's state law claims against defendants Aetna Life Insurance Co., Aetna Health and Life Insurance Co. and Aetna Health Insurance Co. (Aetna, collectively) were dismissed in a related case as preempted by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority v. Aetna Life Insurance Company, et al., No. 14-779, W.D. Wis.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 8093; University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority v. Aetna Life Insurance Company, et al., No. 15-286, W.D. Wis.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 8091).

Mealey's Labor & Employment - Aetna Prevails In 1 Wisconsin ERISA Case; Dismissal Denied in Another

MADISON, Wis. - A challenge by the University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority (UWHCA) of an insurer's denial of payment was rejected on summary judgment Jan. 25 by a Wisconsin federal judge in light of an anti-assignment provision in the parties' contract; the same day, UWHCA's state law claims against defendants Aetna Life Insurance Co., Aetna Health and Life Insurance Co. and Aetna Health Insurance Co. (Aetna, collectively) were dismissed in a related case as preempted by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority v. Aetna Life Insurance Company, et al., No. 14-779, W.D. Wis.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 8093; University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority v. Aetna Life Insurance Company, et al., No. 15-286, W.D. Wis.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 8091).

Mealey's Insurance - Judge Finds Fact Issues On Whether Insurance Policy's Rainwater Limitation Applies

BRUNSWICK, Ga. - There is a genuine issue of fact as to whether an insurance policy's interior rainwater limitation precludes coverage for an insured's loss from a rainstorm to its property, a Georgia federal judge ruled Jan. 25, granting summary judgment to an insurer on a breach of contract claim (E. Raymond Mock, Jr. v. Central Mutual Insurance Co., No. 14-113, S.D. Ga.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 8390).

Mealey's Insurance - Separation Of Claims In Bad Faith Suit Not Needed, Federal Judge Rules

ALLENTOWN, Pa. - A federal judge in Pennsylvania on Jan. 19 denied an insurer's motion to reconsider a ruling denying its motion to separate claims in an insurance breach of contract and bad faith lawsuit, ruling that the insurer failed to show that the stay was needed (Heather Wagner, et al. v. Allstate Insurance Co., No. 14-7326, E.D. Pa.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 6364).

Mealey's Labor & Employment - 6th Circuit Sends M&G Polymers Contract Dispute Back To Trial Court

CINCINNATI - The Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Jan. 21 remanded a dispute over the life of retiree health benefits, in which the U.S. Supreme Court issued an opinion on Jan. 26, 2015, to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio for reconsideration of factual determinations in light of the high court's decision (Hobert Freel Tackett, et al. v. M&G Polymers USA, LLC, et al., No. 12-3329, 6th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 998).

Mealey's Litigation Procedure - Judge Allows Testimony On Damages Stemming From Breach Of Vendor License

LAKE CHARLES, La. - An expert may testify about damages related to an alleged breach of contract for a blind vendor licensing at a military base and include damages from resulting alleged lost contracts from two other bases, a Louisiana federal judge ruled Jan. 19 (Cantu Services, Inc. v. Melvin Lee Frazier, No. 12-1292, W.D. La.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 6300).

Mealey's Insurance - Judge Denies Insured's Motion To Remand In Insurance Bad Faith Suit

HAMMOND, Ind. - A federal judge in Indiana on Jan. 16 denied an insured's motion to remand an insurance breach of contract and bad faith lawsuit back to state court, ruling that an insurance agent was fraudulently joined in the litigation and that the amount in controversy exceeds statutory minimums (Anthony Ramirez v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co., et al., No. 15-449, N.D. Ind.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 5245).

Mealey's Insurance - 10th Circuit Panel Partially Reverses District Court's Ruling In Bad Faith Suit

DENVER - A federal district court erred in granting summary judgment in an insurance breach of contract and bad faith lawsuit because it is unclear whether an insured had an affirmative duty to inform his insurer that he had incorporated a company he used to purchase a commercial general liability policy from the insurer, a 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled Jan. 20 in partially reversing the district court's opinion (Corey Christy v. Travelers Indemnity Company of America, No. 14-2168, 10th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 891).

Mealey's Litigation Procedure - 8th Circuit Upholds Dismissal Of Riceland's Counterclaims In Work Product Suit

ST. LOUIS - The Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Jan. 14 affirmed dismissal of breach of contract and tortious interference counterclaims filed by Riceland Foods Inc. in a class suit filed by a group of attorneys accusing the company of using some of their litigation work product without compensation (Riceland Foods v. Don M. Downing, et al., No. 14-3758, 8th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 620).

Mealey's Banking & Finance - Federal Judge Dismisses FDCPA And Contract Claims For Lack Of Jurisdiction

PHILADELPHIA - A Pennsylvania federal judge on Jan. 12 granted judgment in favor of a bank and law firm, dismissing claims for violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) and breach of contract as barred by the doctrine established in Rooker v. Fidelity Trust Co. (263 U.S. 413 [1923]) and District of Columbia Court of Appeals v. Feldman (460 U.S. 462 [1983]) (Kathleen J. Todd v. U.S. Bank National Association, et al., No. 15-2866, E.D. Pa.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 3415).

Mealey's Insurance - Insurers: Amended Counterclaim Is 'Replete With Hyperbole,' Borrowed 'Buzzwords'

FORT PIERCE, Fla. - Insurers on Jan. 11 moved to dismiss a manufacturer insured's amended counterclaim in a breach of contract and bad faith dispute, arguing that the counterclaim fails because the purported improper conduct concerns their calculation of unpaid premium and not the denial of coverage (Wausau Underwriters Insurance Co. and The First Liberty Insurance Corp. v. Danfoss, LLC, No. 14-14420, S.D. Fla.).

Mealey's Insurance - Federal Judge: Insurer Did Not Breach Its Contract In Denying Claim For Damage

DENVER - An insured failed to establish that it suffered water damage to "covered property" at a renovation project under a builders risk policy, a Colorado federal judge ruled Jan. 8, finding that the insurer properly denied coverage and did not breach its contract (Gerald H. Phipps, Inc. d/b/a GH Phipps Construction Co. v. Travelers Property Casualty Company of America, No. 14-01642, D. Colo.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 2939).

Mealey's Litigation Procedure - 8th Circuit: 401(k) Service Provider Is Not ERISA Fiduciary

ST. LOUIS - A retirement plan sponsor's allegations that a service provider breached its fiduciary duties under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act failed because the provider did not owe any duty to the participants at the time the fees were negotiated and because the sponsor failed to establish a connection between its excessive fee allegations and the alleged post-contract basis for fiduciary duty, the Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals affirmed Jan. 8, rejecting the position of the U.S. Department of Labor (McCaffree Financial Corp. v. Principal Life Insurance Company, No. 15-1007, 8th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 214).

Mealey's Insurance - Insurer Had No Duty To Defend Breach Of Contract Claim, Federal Judge Says

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. - A commercial general liability insurer had no duty to defend an additional insured against breach of contract claims for failure to pay a company for remediating water damage to a school, a North Carolina federal judge ruled Jan. 7, because the breach was a separate and independent act severing the causal connection with the water intrusion (Westfield Insurance Co. v. Nautilus Insurance Co., No. 14-772, M.D. N.C.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 1432).

Mealey's Litigation Procedure - Judge Bars Expert Opinion On Ants' Presence In Pallets For Breach Of Contract Suit

HARRISONBURG, Va. - A defendant's expert may not offer an opinion as to whether ants were present in pallets at the time they were delivered to the defendant in breach of contract case, a Virginia federal judge ruled Jan. 7; however, the judge permitted the expert to testify as to the existence of insect galleries or tunnels in the pallets (Grottoes Pallet Company, Inc. v. Graham Packaging Plastic Products, Inc., No. 15-00017, W.D. Va.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 1459).

Mealey's Labor & Employment - 8th Circuit: 401(k) Service Provider Is Not ERISA Fiduciary

ST. LOUIS - A retirement plan sponsor's allegations that a service provider breached its fiduciary duties under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act failed because the provider did not owe any duty to the participants at the time the fees were negotiated and because the sponsor failed to establish a connection between its excessive fee allegations and the alleged post-contract basis for fiduciary duty, the Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals affirmed Jan. 8, rejecting the position of the U.S. Department of Labor (McCaffree Financial Corp. v. Principal Life Insurance Company, No. 15-1007, 8th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 214).

Mealey's Insurance - Amount In Controversy Exceeds Statutory Limits In Bad Faith Suit, Judge Rules

OKLAHOMA CITY - Remand of an insurance breach of contract and bad faith lawsuit is not proper because the amount in controversy exceeds the statutory limits, a federal judge in Oklahoma ruled Jan. 5 (Michael Hockenbury v. The Hanover Insurance Co., No. 15-1003, W.D. Okla.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 1267).

Mealey's Insurance - Judge Rules That Insurers' Claims In Bad Faith Suit Are Not Time-Barred

DENVER - A federal judge in Colorado on Jan. 6 denied an insurer's motion for partial summary judgment in an insurance breach of contract and bad faith lawsuit, ruling that the insureds' breach of contract and Colorado law claims are not time-barred (Jesus Borrego and Joanne Borrego v. American Family Mutual Insurance Co., No. 14-1732, D. Colo.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 1014).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Judge Dismisses Some Claims From Cleanup Company's Suit Against BP

LOS ANGELES - A federal judge in California on Jan. 4 dismissed without prejudice an environmental cleanup company's claims for breach of contract, accounts stated and open book account against BP America Inc. in a lawsuit accusing BP of failing to pay the company $1.7 million for cleanup activities it conducted in the Gulf of Mexico following the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in April 2010, finding that the plaintiff company failed to adequately state the claims (Advanced Cleanup Technologies Inc. v. BP America Inc., et al., No. 14-cv-09033, C.D. Calif.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 1192).

Mealey's Banking & Finance - 8th Circuit Affirms Decision For CitiMortgage For Breach Of Contract

ST. LOUIS - The Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Dec. 21 affirmed a district court's decision to grant summary judgment for a mortgage firm, finding that a bank breached a contract when it refused to repurchase residential mortgage loans (CitiMortgage Inc. v. Chicago Bancorp Inc., No. 15-1375, 8th Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 22192).