TULSA, Okla. — An insured’s claim alleging that an auto insurer acted in bad faith can proceed because the insured clearly stated a claim for bad faith and supported his allegations that the insurer failed to conduct an appropriate investigation and failed to respond to a request for appraisal of the insured’s claim, an Oklahoma federal judge said Feb. 12 (Justin Walmer v. Bristol West Insurance Co., No. 18-629, N.D. Okla., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 22254).
DETROIT — A Michigan federal judge on Feb. 13 partially granted an insurer’s motion in limine after determining that it is appropriate to exclude evidence and testimony regarding the amounts of an underlying jury verdict entered against the insureds because it may be prejudicial to the insurer when the jury is asked to determine if the insurer acted in bad faith by failing to settle the underlying auto claim on behalf of the insureds (Reliable Transportation Specialists Inc., et al. v. Wausau Underwriters Insurance Co., No. 15-12954, E.D. Mich., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 23230).
SEATTLE — The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Feb. 11 affirmed a lower federal court’s grant of professional liability insurers' joint motion to dismiss a breach of contract and bad faith lawsuit brought by their psychologist insured, her spouse and their marital community property (Lana R. Staheli, Ph.D. v. Chicago Insurance Company, No. 16-35480, 9th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 4087).
TAMPA, Fla. — A Florida federal judge on Feb. 8 granted a motion to remand a breach of fiduciary and bad faith suit filed against two insurers after determining that the insurers failed to prove that one of the insurers was fraudulently joined to defeat diversity jurisdiction (Dawn Carapella v. State Farm Florida Insurance Co., No. 18-2396, M.D. Fla., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 20711).
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — A homeowners insurer did not breach its contract or act in bad faith in denying a claim for an infestation of brown recluse spiders in an insured home because the policy’s insect and vermin exclusion clearly applies to preclude coverage, an Alabama federal judge said Feb. 11 (Maggie J. Robinson, et al. v. Liberty Mutual Insurance Co., et al., No. 18-1509, N.D. Ala., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 216270).
CHICAGO — An Illinois federal magistrate judge on Feb. 7 dismissed claims alleging fraud, misrepresentation and bad faith against an insurer after determining that the insured, seeking coverage for water damages caused by burst pipes, failed to allege sufficient facts in support of the claims (Propitious LLC, et al. v. Badger Mutual Insurance Co., et al., No. 18-1405, N.D. Ill., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 19582).
HAMMOND, Ind. — A federal judge in Indiana on Jan. 29 ruled that an insurer did not breach the terms of its contract with its insureds and did not act in bad faith in denying an additional insured’s claim for coverage for his minor son who was killed in an automobile accident because the additional insurer was not a named insured to the automobile insurance policy and not entitled to underinsured motorist benefits (Louis A. Arroyo, et al. v. GEICO Casualty Co., No. 16-511, N.D. Ind., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 16045).
SEATTLE — A life insurer did not breach its insurance contract or act in bad faith by denying a wife’s claim for life insurance benefits following her husband’s death because the husband was no longer insured under the life insurance policy and the insurer provided numerous notices that the husband’s coverage would be canceled per the terms of the plan, a Washington federal magistrate judge said Jan. 28 (Rebecca Augsburger v. Navy Mutual Aid Association, No. 17-1817, W.D. Wash., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 13245).
CINCINNATI — A federal district court did not abuse its discretion in sua sponte dismissing an insured’s bifurcated tort claims against his long-term disability insurance provider because the insured failed to submit all of his evidence in support of his claims in responding to the insurer’s motion for summary judgment on the insurer’s breach of contract claim, a Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel affirmed Feb. 7 (James H. Pogue v. Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co., No. 18-5291, 6th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 3943).
AUSTIN, Texas — An insured recently asked the Texas Supreme Court to determine whether a homeowners insurer’s payment of an appraisal award for hailstorm damage operates as a contractual bar to damages available to him under Texas contract law and the Texas Insurance Code, contending that a policy’s appraisal provision “has morphed into a compelled arbitration provision with no ability to recover costs associated with the process of enforcing a policyholder’s rights” (Oscar Ortiz v. State Farm Lloyds, No. 17-1048, Texas Sup.).
ST. LOUIS — The Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Feb. 6 affirmed a lower federal court’s finding in favor of a commercial excess liability insurer in a coverage lawsuit stemming from a fall at a Montana mine that killed the insured’s employee (Houston Casualty Company v. Strata Corporation, No. 17-3404, 8th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 3936).
NEW ORLEANS — An insurer is not entitled to summary judgment on an insured’s claim alleging breach of the duty of good faith and fair dealing against its insurer because questions of fact exist regarding whether the insurer’s actions in negotiating a settlement without obtaining a release on behalf of the insured and in withdrawing the insured’s defense counsel caused the insured to be prejudiced, a Louisiana federal judge said Feb. 5 (Somerset Pacific LLC v. Tudor Insurance Co., No. 17-7099, E.D. La., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 18223).
JACKSON, Miss. — A federal judge in Mississippi on Jan. 25 severed claims in an insurance breach of contract and bad faith lawsuit and partially remanded the action to state court, ruling that such action is necessary based on Mississippi Supreme Court precedent (Jerrie G. Magruder v. Elliot H. Brashier, et al., No. 18-588, S.D. Miss., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 332719).
PHOENIX — A disability insurer did not breach its contract or act in bad faith by denying a claim for benefits because the evidence supports a finding that the claimant was not totally disabled, an Arizona federal judge said Jan. 30 (Cynthia Cheney v. United States Life Insurance Company in the City of New York, et al., No. 17-0004, D. Ariz., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 14742).
BOISE, Idaho — Bifurcation of a breach of contract claim from extracontractual claims in an auto coverage dispute is not warranted because the insurer will not be prejudiced if the claims are tried together, an Idaho federal judge said Jan. 30 in denying the insurer’s motion to bifurcate (Michele Keck, et al. v. Metropolitan Group Property and Casualty Insurance Co., No. 18-472, D. Idaho, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 16757).
MISSOULA, Mont. — An insured’s expectation that its commercial auto insurer would negotiate a release on its behalf prior to paying the full policy limits to claimants injured in an auto accident was reasonable, a Montana federal judge said Feb. 4 in denying the insurer’s motion to dismiss the insured’s bad faith claim (High Country Paving Inc. v. United Fire & Casualty Co., No. 18-163, D. Mont., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 17610).
WHEELING, W.Va. — A West Virginia federal judge on Jan. 30 denied a motion to remand a bad faith lawsuit filed by insureds against their auto insurer and insurance agent after determining that the negligence claim against the insurance agent cannot be maintained under West Virginia law (Keith Jay Fischer, et al. v. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co. Inc., et al., No. 18-167, N.D. W.Va., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 14694).
UTICA, N.Y. — An insured’s claim for consequential and extracontractual damages must be dismissed because the insured failed to show that the insurer’s actions in its handling of a claim for a collapsed building amounted to bad faith, which is necessary to justify a claim for consequential and extracontractual damages, a New York federal judge said Jan. 30 (Russell Bryant v. General Casualty Company of Wisconsin, No. 18-562, N.D. N.Y., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 14369).
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Basing his decision on a recent Florida Supreme Court ruling concerning similar issues, a federal judge in Florida on Jan. 28 declined to grant an insurer’s motion for summary judgment in an insurance breach of contract and bad faith lawsuit, ruling that the state supreme court’s ruling compels him to send the case to trial (Tanner Wiggins v. Government Employees Insurance Co., No. 16-1142, M.D. Fla., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 12794).
LAFAYETTE, La. — A Louisiana federal magistrate judge on Jan. 28 dismissed a bad faith claim against an auto insurer because the claimant seeking underinsured motorist benefits under the policy failed to establish that she provided the insurer with a satisfactory proof of loss related to the benefits claim before she filed suit against the auto insurer (Magdalena Placencio v. Progressive Paloverde Insurance Co., et al., No. 17-1433, W.D. La., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 13517).