Victory Insurance Co., Inc. v. Montana State Fund

Victory Insurance Co., Inc. v. Montana State Fund, 2015 MT 82 (March 17, 2015) (Cotter, J.) (5-0, aff’d)

Issue: Whether the district court erred in dismissing Victory’s common law UTPA claim, and granting summary judgment to the State Fund on Victory’s claim for intentional interference with prospective economic advantage.

Short Answer: Yes, as Victory’s inability to establish damages is fatal to both claims.

Affirmed

Facts: Plaintiffs and defendants are competitors in the workers compensation industry. Victory is a Montana corporation in Miles City, and began operating in 2007. It sells work comp insurance directly to employers without using insurance agencies for sales or claims adjustment. Defendant State Fund sells work comp insurance though in-house and out-of-house agents. Defendants Liberty Northwest, Payne Financial Group, and Western States Insurance also sell work comp insurance, including State Fund policies.

Victory filed suit against the defendants, alleging they had made derogatory comments to prospective customers about Victory in an effort to dissuade those customers from purchasing insurance from Victory.

Defendants moved to dismiss the UTPA claim, arguing it does not create a private right of action by one insurance company against another, and the district court granted the motion.

Procedural Posture & Holding: After discovery, all defendants moved for summary judgment on the basis that Victory had failed to establish damages caused by the defendants’ actions. The district court granted the motions, and Victory appeals. The Supreme Court affirms.

Reasoning: Each defendant referenced the specific customers with whom Victory claimed the defendant had interfered, and presented detailed evidence regarding discussions with company representatives, including affidavits from companies swearing that the defendant did not engage in the alleged misconduct. The district court concluded that Victory failed to adduce any evidence of actual financial loss resulting from a lost contract or business opportunity resulting from defendants’ conduct, and the Supreme Court concludes that the record supports that decision.