PHOENIX - A federal jury in Arizona on April 22 awarded a widow and her three children $17 million, including $8 million in punitive damages, in a case alleging that their decedent contracted mesothelioma after occupational exposure to asbestos (Sandra Brown Coulbourn v. Air & Liquid Systems Corporation, et al., No. 12-8141, D. Ariz.).
BECKLEY, W.Va. - A West Virginia federal judge on April 19 allowed breach of contract, negligence and fraud claims to proceed in a dispute over prize indemnity insurance coverage for a "hole-in-one" golf tournament contest, but dismissed the common-law and statutory bad faith claims (Talbot 2002 Underwriting Capital Ltd, et al. v. Old White Charities Inc., No. 15-12542, S.D. W.Va.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 52088).
SAN FRANCISCO - A California federal judge on April 14 refused to dismiss a breach of contract claim against an excess insurer and bad faith and punitive damages claims against a primary insurer in a products liability coverage dispute involving the insured's da Vinci Surgical System product (Intuitive Surgical Inc. v. Illinois Union Insurance Co., et al., No. 15-04834, N.D. Calif.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 51097).
PADUCAH, Ky. - After a federal judge in Kentucky denied a pair of insurers in rehabilitation's motion to stay a litigation brought by a policyholder, the insurers answered the complaint on April 14, generally denying the policyholder's allegations (Charles D. Tucker, M.D. v. American Network Insurance Company, et al., No. 16-cv-00013, W.D. Ky.).
NEW ORLEANS - Allegations of a subcontractor's defective work in the reconstruction of a high school after Hurricane Katrina raise the possibility of an insurer's duty to defend, a Louisiana federal judge ruled April 15, denying an insurer's motion to dismiss breach of contract and bad faith claims (Gootee Construction, Inc. v. Travelers Property Casualty Company of America, No. 15-3185, E.D. La.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 50911).
SCRANTON, Pa. - An insured has properly pleaded that his insurer unreasonably denied payment of benefits pursuant to an automobile insurance policy, a federal judge in Pennsylvania ruled April 18 in denying the insurer's motion to dismiss in an insurance breach of contract and bad faith lawsuit (Justin Linko v. Nationwide Property & Casualty Insurance, No. 15-2066, M.D. Pa.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 51602).
BATON ROUGE, La. - A 2-1 panel of the First Circuit Louisiana Court of Appeal on April 15 affirmed a trial court judge's ruling finding that a couple's breach of contract lawsuit against a contractor they initially hired to build their home was perempted by the New Home Warranty Act (NHWA) (Barbara Siragusa, et al. v. Chad Bradley Bordelon, et al., No. 2015 CA 1372, La. App., 1st Cir.; 2016 La. App. LEXIS 733).
McALLEN, Texas - A federal judge in Texas on April 13 granted a motion for summary judgment in favor of an insurer and others, ruling that no breach of contract occurred because the insurer complied with the terms of an appraisal provision under a property insurance policy and, thus, the insurer could not have acted in bad faith (Mark Dizdar, et al. v. State Farm Lloyds, et al., No. 14-514, S.D. Texas; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 49839).
NEW ORLEANS - An insured's failure to promptly give notice of hailstorm damage prejudiced an insurer's investigation, the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled April 14, affirming the entry of summary judgment to the insurer on breach of contract claims (Hamilton Properties, et al. v. American Insurance Co., et al., No. 15-10382, 5th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 6818).
DENVER - An insurance expert may not offer opinions that conflict with a federal court's interpretation of an insurance policy's condominium enhancement endorsement in a breach of contract and bad faith lawsuit stemming from the insurer's denial of coverage for water damage, a Colorado federal judge ruled April 13 (Chateau Village North Condominium Association v. American Family Mutual Insurance Co., No. 14-01583, D. Colo.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 49665).
HELENA, Mont. - A Montana state court judge did not err when granting Atlantic Richfield Co.'s motion for judgment on the pleadings, finding that Asarco LLC's state law claims for breach of contract, negligent misrepresentation, breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing and fraud claims could have been added to an earlier federal lawsuit, a Montana Supreme Court panel ruled April 12 (Asarco LLC v. Atlantic Richfield Company, No. DA 15-0464, Mont. Sup.; 2016 Mont. LEXIS 266).
LAKELAND, Fla. - A Florida appeals panel on April 13 reversed a lower court's final judgment to the extent that it awarded insureds monetary damages for subsurface repairs without requiring them to enter into a contract for those repairs in a sinkhole coverage dispute (Citizens Property Insurance Corp. v. Niurka Simoneau, et al., No. 2D14-4183, Fla. App., 2nd Dist.; 2016 Fla. App. LEXIS 5551).
ORLANDO, Fla. - A federal judge in Florida on April 11 granted in part and denied in part an insurer's motion to dismiss in an insurance breach of contract and bad faith lawsuit, ruling that dismissal of an insured's breach of fiduciary duty claim is proper because it is duplicative of the insured's other bad faith claims (Janis Braddy v. Infinity Assurance Insurance Co., No. 15-119, M.D. Fla.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 48565).
HONOLULU - Monsanto Co. on April 11 filed a brief in federal court in Hawaii, arguing that the personal injury lawsuit filed against it by a woman who contends that she contracted cancer after using the company's herbicide on her coffee farm should be dismissed because the statute of limitations has run on her claim (Christine Sheppard, et al. v. Monsanto Company, No. 16-43, D. Hawaii).
LAKELAND, Fla. - A Florida appeals panel on April 8 determined that a lower court erred in awarding monetary damages to insureds without recognizing the homeowners insurer's right to withhold payment for the cost of subsurface repairs until the insureds entered into a contract for those repairs, further finding that the trial court also erred in awarding prejudgment interest (Citizens Property Insurance Corp. v. Daniel Blaha and Clyndon Blaha, No. 2D14-939, Fla. App., 2nd Dist.; 2016 Fla. App. LEXIS 5399).
SAN FRANCISCO - A month after a hearing in California federal court at which Facebook Inc. sought dismissal of a lawsuit alleging privacy violations in its photo "Tag Suggestions" feature, the putative class plaintiffs on April 5 filed a statement of a recent Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals decision that found a purported online contract to be invalid based on a website operator's failure to provide "reasonable notice" of a user's assent to the contract's terms (In re Facebook Biometric Information Privacy Litigation, No. 3:15-cv-03747, N.D. Calif.).
BALTIMORE - A federal judge in Maryland on April 6 dismissed an insured's claims for bad faith and violation of the Maryland Consumer Protection Act (MCPA) in an insurance breach of contract and bad faith lawsuit, ruling that Maryland law "does not recognize first party tort actions against insurers for failure to settle insurance claims" (Joe Gladney v. American Western Home Insurance Co., No. 15-1559, D. Md.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 46310).
SPOKANE, Wash. - A federal judge in Washington on March 30 denied an insurer's motion for summary judgment in an insurance breach of contract and bad faith lawsuit, ruling that a genuine issue of material fact exists as to whether the insurer breached the insurance contract and acted in bad faith in its handling of an insured's claim under a professional malpractice policy (Workland & Witherspoon PLLC v. Evanston Insurance Co., No. 14-403, E.D. Wash.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 42637).
HAMMOND, Ind. - A federal judge in Indiana on March 31 granted an insurer's motion for partial summary judgment in an insurance breach of contract and bad faith lawsuit, ruling that the plaintiff may not sue the insurer for bad faith because she is a third-party beneficiary and not a named insured pursuant to the insurance contract (Jessica Martinez v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co., No. 15-137, N.D. Ind.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 42956).
DENVER - A federal judge in Colorado on March 29 substantially granted an insurer's motion for partial summary judgment in an insurance breach of contract and bad faith lawsuit, ruling that although an insured failed to properly state her claim for common-law bad faith, certain issues preclude complete dismissal of her statutory bad faith claim (Joyce Wahlert v. American Standard Insurance Company of Wisconsin, No. 14-2744, D. Colo.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 41295).
OMAHA, Neb. - A Nebraska man on March 29 filed suit in federal court in Nebraska against a pizza restaurant, alleging that his daughter became infected with E. coli after eating there (Tyler Pannier, individually and as parent of L.P., a minor, v. Pizza Ranch Inc., No. 8:16-cv-00136, D. Neb.).
RICHMOND, Va. - The Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on March 29 denied a petition for rehearing en banc filed by a company that had been sued by a North Carolina man who contended that he contracted cancer as a result of groundwater contamination for which the man said the company was liable (Kent Stahle v. CTS Corporation, No. 15-1001, 4th Cir.).