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).
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).
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).
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).
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).
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).
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).
HACKENSACK, N.J. - A New Jersey judge on Dec. 17 granted a motion for expedited discovery brought by a group of hospitals, finding that their requests for documents related to certain hospital-ranking methodology and resulting scores of hospitals that are not parties to the suit are relevant to their breach of contract claims about the insurer's newly announced tiered health plan (Capital Health Systems Inc., et al. v. Horizon Healthcare Services Inc., No. BER-C-369-15, N.J. Super., Chanc. Div.; 2015 N.J. Super. Unpub. LEXIS 2957).
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - An Alabama federal judge on Dec. 17 declined to exclude to an expert from testifying regarding the cause of a railcar accident at a terminal in a negligence and breach of contract lawsuit (CSX Transportation, Inc. v. PSL North America, LLC, No. 13-00982, N.D. Ala.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 168677).
PHILADELPHIA - In a Dec. 17 protective order motion filed in Pennsylvania federal court, The Coca-Cola Co. seeks to have discovery materials pertaining to its trade secrets and employees' personally identifying information (PII) designated confidential in a breach of contract lawsuit over stolen company laptops that contained PII (Shane K. Enslin v. The Coca-Cola Co., et al., No. 2:14-cv-06476, E.D. Pa.).
PHOENIX - A trial court did not err in granting summary judgment in favor of an insurer in an insurance breach of contract and bad faith lawsuit because an insured failed to show that the insurer did not attempt to honor the insured's claim for automobile insurance benefits, an Arizona Court of Appeals panel ruled Dec. 15 (Judith E. Indihar, as personal representative of the Estate of James L. Indihar, Jr. v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co., No. 1 CA-CV 14-0621, Ariz. App., Div. 1; 2015 Ariz. App. LEXIS 1535).
SAN DIEGO - A California federal judge on Dec. 15 granted a motion filed by the owner of a dating social media network application to dismiss claims asserted by a user for violation of California's unfair competition law (UCL) and Dating Service Contracts Act (DSCA) but permitted him leave to amend the complaint (Mark Howell, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, v. Grindr LLC, No. 15cv1337, S.D. Calif.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 167669).
FRESNO, Calif. - A California appeals panel on Dec. 11 reversed a judge's granting of a directed verdict and remanded for retrial an insured's claims for breach of contract and breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing against his insurer for denied coverage of water damage to his rental house, but not the claim for punitive damages (Artyun Vardanyan v. AMCO Insurance Co., No. F069953, Calif. App., 5th Dist.; 2015 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 8925).
DENVER - A senior federal judge in Colorado on Dec. 11 granted an insurer's motion to alter judgment in an insurance breach of contract and bad faith lawsuit, holding that pursuant to the state's noneconomic damages cap, an insured is still entitled to more than $925,000 in damages stemming from the insurer's bad faith failure to provide coverage under an automobile insurance policy (Kimberley Carpenter v. American Family Mutual Insurance Co., No. 13-1986, D. Colo.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 166952).
COLUMBUS, Ohio - A federal magistrate judge in Ohio issued a report and recommendation in an insurance breach of contract and bad faith lawsuit on Dec. 14, recommending that an insured's motion to remand the action to state court be denied because insurers have shown that the amount in controversy may exceed statutory limits (Michael D. Crooks v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co., No. 15-2234, S.D. Ohio; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 166994).
SHERMAN, Texas - A federal judge in Texas on Dec. 10 granted an insurer's motion for summary judgment, accepting a federal magistrate judge's report and recommendation that stated that an insured failed to plead any of his claims except for breach of contract in an insurance bad faith lawsuit (Carlos Paz v. State Farm Lloyds, No. 14-693, E.D. Texas; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 165144).
CAMDEN, N.J. - A federal judge in New Jersey dismissed an insurance breach of contract and bad faith lawsuit on Dec. 10, ruling that an insured has failed to properly plead subject matter jurisdiction in making its claims against a title insurance provider and others (Plantation Bay LLC v. Stewart Title Guaranty Co., et al., No. 15-2042, D. N.J.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 165753).
WHEELING, W.Va. - A breach of contract counterclaim brought in response to an action seeking a declaration that the Employee Retirement Income Security Act preempts a request for indemnification was dismissed Dec. 10 by a West Virginia federal judge (Ohio Valley Health Services & Education Corporation, et al. v. Health Plan of the Upper Ohio Valley Inc., et al., No. 15-65, N.D. W.Va.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 165705).
NEW HAVEN, Conn. - An insurer told a federal court in Connecticut on Dec. 11 that it is dismissing its suit against its reinsurer without prejudice (The Travelers Indemnity Company v. Excalibur Reinsurance Corporation, No. 15-cv-01697, D. Conn.).
FORT WAYNE, Ind. - An insurer is not entitled to control the defense of its insured in underlying environmental contamination actions because the insurer has a conflict of interest as its lawsuit against the insured alleges a claim of breach of contract, an Indiana federal judge said Dec. 7 (Valley Forge Insurance Co. v. Hartford Iron & Metal Inc., et al., No. 14-006, N.D. Ind.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 163501).