Archive | Insurer’s duty to defend

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Fire Insurance Exchange v. Weitzel

Fire Insurance Exchange v. Weitzel, 2016 MT 113 (May 17, 2016) (McKinnon, J.) (5-0, rev’d)

Issue: Whether the district court erred by concluding Fire Insurance Exchange (FIE) had a duty to defend Weitzel under the terms of the insurance policy.

Short Answer: Yes.

Reversed and remanded for entry of judgment in FIE’s favor

Facts: The estate of Ronny Groff brought suit against Jake Weitzel, alleging that Weitzel gained the trust of Groff, an elderly man, and then absconded with Groff’s property and assets over a number of years. Groff’s children hired Weitzel in 2010 to provide in-home care services to Groff and his wife, who died in 2011. Weitzel provided services until Ronny died in July 2013.

The estate’s complaint alleges that after Ronny’s wife died, Weitzel began to wrongfully exert control over Ronny and exploit him to her financial gain.  …

Westchester Surplus Lines Insurance Co. v. Keller Transport, Inc.

Westchester Surplus Lines Insurance Co. v. Keller Transport, Inc., 2016 MT 6 (Jan. 12, 2016) (Rice, J.; McKinnon, J., dissenting) (6-1, aff’d & rev’d)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court erred in determining Westchester’s excess policy provided an additional $4 million in coverage under the “general aggregate” limit; and (2) whether the district court erred in holding Westchester breached its duty to defend.

Short Answer: (1) No, and (2) yes.

Affirmed and reversed

F.H. Stoltze Land & Lumber Co. v. American States Insurance Co.

F.H. Stoltze Land & Lumber Co. v. American States Insurance Co., 2015 MT 165 (June 23, 2015) (Baker, J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: Whether district court properly granted summary judgment to insurer on grounds that policy insurer has with Schlegel does not require it to defend and indemnify Stoltze in action where Schlegel could not be held liable.

Short Answer: Yes.

Affirmed

Facts: In 2003, Schlegel and Stoltze contracted for Schelgel to log Stoltze’s property. In the contract, Schlegel agreed to obtain liability insurance indemnifying Stoltze from liability for loss or injury arising from the logging operations. Schelgel also agreed that the indemnification would not be limited by Schlegel’s immunity, Schlegel having waived such immunity as a defense against Stoltze.

The policy extended coverage to any person for whom Schlegel was required by contract to provide insurance, but further provided there was no coverage if “in the absence of this endorsement, no liability would be imposed by law” on Schlegel.…

Landa v. Assurance Co. of America

Landa v. Assurance Co. of America, 2013 MT 217 (Aug. 6, 2013) (5-0) (Wheat, J.)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court properly granted summary judgment to Assurance on the basis that Assurance had no duty to defend because the complaint did not allege an “occurrence” and did not involve “bodily injury,” and (2) whether the district court properly held that Assurance had no duty to conduct an independent investigation.

Short Answer: (1) Yes, and (2) yes.

Affirmed

Newman v. Scottsdale Insurance Co.

Newman v. Scottsdale Insurance Co., 2013 MT 125 (May 7, 2013) (5-1) (Cotter, J., for the majority; Wheat, J., dissenting)

Issue: (1) Whether the district court erred in considering inadmissible evidence and facts beyond the allegations of the complaint in determining that the insurers had a duty to defend; (2) whether the district court erred in finding a duty to defend but not applying the policy exclusions; (3) whether the district court erred in calculating and awarding attorneys’ fees to Newman; and (4) whether the district court erred in finding Montana law controls.

Short Answer: (1) Yes, but it was harmless; (2) no; (3) yes, because it should not have used the contingency fee agreement between Newman and her attorneys as a basis; and (4) no.…