Insurance Law Blog

Recent Developments in Insurance Law

Mostafavi Law Group, APC v. Larry Rabineau, APC, et al., 2021 WL 803685 (March 3, 2021); Second Appellate District Court of Appeal, Division Four, Case No. B302344 (March 3, 2021). California Code of Civil Procedure section 998 Offers to Compromise are an effective and widely-used settlement tool in litigation.  The main objective of a Section 998 Offer “is to encourage settlement by providing a strong financial disincentive to a party – whether it be a plaintiff or a defendant – who fails to achieve a better result than the party could have achieved by accepting his or her opponent’s settlement…
Pinto v. Farmers Ins. Exch., ___ Cal. App. 5th ___ (2021) Over the past several years, the insurance industry in California has been plagued by waves of “bad faith failure to settle” claims.  These claims arise out of a variety of circumstances and can take many forms, but at their core involve the following: an insured injures a third party; that third party then offers to settle his/her claim for the policy limits; but the insurer, for one reason or another, fails to accept that settlement demand.  Once that happens, the third party claimant then takes the position that the…
Thomas Guastello v. AIG Specialty Insurance Company, — Cal.Rptr.3d –, 2021 WL 650878 (Cal. Ct. App., Feb. 19, 2021), Fourth Appellate District Court of Appeal, Case No. G057714. Various stakeholders in the Pointe Monarch housing development in Dana Point, California, accused subcontractor C.W. Poss Inc. (“Poss”) of negligently designing and constructing retaining walls.  One such party, Thomas Guastello, sued Poss for damage to a perimeter wall in the backyard of Guastello’s property.  According to Guastello, in January 2010, a retaining wall close to his property designed and constructed by Poss failed and caused soil to collapse and damage a perimeter…
Miller Marital Deduction Trust v. Zurich American Insurance Company, — P.3d –, 2019 WL 5304862; First Appellate District Court of Appeal, Division Three, Case No. A155398 (October 21, 2019). In Miller Marital Deduction Trust v. Zurich American Insurance Company, the California Court of Appeal held that allegations that an insurance company improperly failed to provide independent, “Cumis” counsel did not arise from protected speech and thus were not subject to California’s anti-SLAPP statute. Seeking to avoid liability for environmental contamination on a property they owned, the Millers sued several prior owners of the property, including the Miller Estate. Zurich retained…
Pitzer College v. Indian Harbor Insurance Company, — P.3d –, 2019 WL 4065521 (2019); California Supreme Court, Case No. S239510 (Aug. 29, 2019). On certified questions by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the California Supreme Court in Pitzer College v. Indian Harbor Insurance Company examined notice and consent provisions under both first-party and third-party coverage – despite the parties’ dispute as to the type of policy coverage at issue.…
Melissa Komorsky v. Farmers Insurance Exchange, et al. — Cal.Rptr.3d –, 2019 WL 1451275 (Cal. Ct. App., March 1, 2019), Second Appellate District Court of Appeal, Case No. B286443. An uninsured motorist struck and killed Linda Liker, which led to competing claims for uninsured motorist (“UM”) benefits between Ms. Liker’s surviving husband, Alan, and her daughter from a prior marriage, Melissa Komorsky. Melissa did not reside in the Likers’ home.…
Following nearly a decade of uncertainty as to their enforceability, the California Court of Appeal upheld key components of the California Fair Claims Settlement Practices Regulations on September 20, 2018 and affirmed that the California Insurance Commissioner has the authority to penalize insurers for engaging in improper claim settlement practices based upon even a single act of misconduct.…
In Albert v. Truck Insurance Exchange, No. B278295 (Cal. Ct. App. May 15, 2018), the California Court of Appeal, Second District, considered whether an insurer owed a duty to defend an insured who was sued for erecting a fence that partially blocked an easement providing access to a neighbor’s property. The Court of Appeal concluded that the insurer owed a duty to defend because the policy provided coverage for personal injuries arising out of a wrongful “invasion of the right of private occupancy.” According to the Court, such coverage may include a non-physical invasion of rights in real…
Centex Homes, et al. v. St. Paul Fire and Marine Insurance Company, — Cal.Rptr.3d –, 2018 WL 494749 (Jan. 22, 2018), Third Appellate District Court of Appeal, Case No. C081266. Homeowners from two residential developments sued Centex for alleged construction defects. As an additional insured under policies issued to subcontractor Ad Land Venture, Centex tendered the underlying construction defect lawsuit to St. Paul Fire and Marine Insurance Company. St. Paul appointed a lawyer to defend Centex, but subject to a reservation of rights that its general liability policies issued to Ad Land did not cover damage to Ad Land’s work…
Admiral Insurance Company v. Superior Court of San Diego County, 18 Cal.App.5th 383 (2017); Fourth Appellate District Court of Appeal, Division One, Case No. D072267 (December 12, 2017). In Admiral Insurance Company v. Superior Court of San Diego County, the California Court of Appeal held that a professional liability policy did not provide coverage for a lawsuit where, prior to the inception of the policy, the insured knew, or could have reasonably foreseen, that a claim would be made.…
Update: On February 21, 2018, the California Supreme Court granted Actavis’ petition for review, but has deferred the matter pending disposition of related issues in Liberty Surplus Insurance Corp. v. Ledesma and Meyer Construction Co., Case No. S236765.” The Traveler’s Property Casualty Company of America v. Actavis, Inc. — Cal.Rptr.3d –, 2017 WL 5119167 (Nov. 6, 2017); California Court of Appeal, Fourth District, Division 3, Case No. G053749 In two separate lawsuits, the Counties of Santa Clara and Orange (the “California Action”) and the City of Chicago (the “Chicago Action”) sued various pharmaceutical companies, including Actavis, Inc. In the California…
Medina v. GEICO Indemnity Company, 8 Cal.App.5th 251 (2017) Leigh Anne Flores worked for Pacific Bell. While driving a Pacific Bell van, she hit another car driven by Javier Medina. Pacific Bell furnished the van to Flores for work, but Flores also used it for personal use without any express objection or restriction by Pacific Bell. At the time she struck Medina, Flores was on a personal errand during work hours.…
Zubillaga v. Allstate Indemnity Company, 12 Cal.App.5th 1017 (2017) Carmen Zubillaga sustained a back injury from a car accident. After settling with the other driver’s insurer, Zubillaga made a claim for underinsured motorist benefits to her auto insurer, Allstate Indemnity Company. Zubillaga demanded the remaining $35,000 policy limit to settle her UIM claim. Allstate rejected Zubillaga’s demand, and instead offered $10,000. Zubillaga later claimed that she had radiating back pain requiring epidural injections. Allstate increased its offer to $12,084 and retained an orthopedic surgeon to examine Zubillaga. The surgeon examined Zubillaga and concluded that she did not have radiating back…
Pulte Home Corporation v. American Safety Indemnity Company, — Cal.Rptr.3d — , 2017 WL 3725045 (Aug. 30, 2017); California Court of Appeal, Fourth District, Division 1, Case No. D070478. In two construction defect lawsuits, homeowners sued the general contractor and developer, Pulte Home Corporation, for alleged foundation, electrical and waterproofing defects. Pulte required that its subcontractors purchase general liability insurance with completed operations coverage naming Pulte as an additional insured. American Safety Indemnity Company had issued such liability insurance policies to several subcontractors implicated in the defect claims. Those policies included “products – completed operations” coverage for property damage occurring…