Justia U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Insurance Law
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The district court held on summary judgment that, under Eleventh Circuit precedent, federal maritime law requires strict compliance with captain and crew warranties in a marine insurance policy. The district court concluded that, because Ocean Reef breached those warranties, there was no coverage for the loss of its yacht under a policy issued by Travelers.The Eleventh Circuit applied Wilburn Boat Co. v. Firearm’s Fund Ins. Co., 348 U.S. 310, 316 (1955), and concluded that there does not exist entrenched federal maritime rules governing captain or crew warranties in this case. Therefore, Florida law applies to determine the effect of Ocean Reef's breaches. The court reversed and remanded for further proceedings. View "Travelers Property Casualty Company of America v. Ocean Reef Charters LLC" on Justia Law

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This appeal consolidates seven separate cases that three related corporate entities, MSP, originally filed in Florida state court against seventeen insurance companies. The district court granted MSP's motions to remand but declined to order the insurance companies to pay MSP's attorney's fees and costs.The Eleventh Circuit concluded that it does not have jurisdiction over the cross-appeals brought by Travelers, Northland, and Owners insurance companies. In this case, the remand orders fall within the scope of 28 U.S.C. 1447(c) and are unreviewable. Therefore, the court dismissed the cross-appeals for lack of jurisdiction. The court also concluded that the district court did not abuse its discretion in denying MSP's motions for attorney's fees and costs. The court held that it is not an abuse of discretion for a district judge to decline to award attorney's fees and costs under section 1447(c) simply because that judge or other district court judges within the same district have previously remanded in similar cases. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's orders. View "MSP Recovery Claims, Series LLC v. The Hanover Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed suit against USAA on behalf of himself and a putative class for declaratory judgments that USAA's method to calculate insurance payments was inconsistent with Florida law and the insurance policy.The Eleventh Circuit concluded that plaintiff does not have standing to seek prospective relief on the off chance that he might total a car again in the future. The court further concluded that plaintiff's request for supplemental relief does not change the standing analysis for a declaratory judgment claim. Therefore, the court concluded that plaintiff does not have standing to bring his declaratory judgment claims, vacated the district court's order of dismissal, and remanded to the district court with instructions that the district court remand the case back to state court. View "Mack v. USAA Casualty Insurance Co." on Justia Law

Posted in: Insurance Law
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After plaintiff's boat was stolen, Geico denied coverage based on plaintiff's misrepresentation that he was in possession of the boat. On appeal, plaintiff argued that the district court erred in applying the doctrine of uberrimae fidei.The Eleventh Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment for Geico and denial of plaintiff's motion for partial summary judgment. The court held that plaintiff's misrepresentation voided his policy ab initio. Based on the record, the court concluded that plaintiff's initial policy, by its terms, expired on May 5, 2018, because he did not pay the required premium for the new policy period. Therefore, plaintiff's boat was uninsured between May 5, 2018, and when he first called Geico on May 25, 2018. Although plaintiff is correct that the doctrine of uberrimae fidei applies only when an insurer issues a policy, not when a policy is already in full force, his policy was not in full force on May 25th because it had expired. The court also concluded that plaintiff's statements were material to Geico's issuance of coverage on May 25, even if by renewal and backdating. Therefore, the district court properly applied the doctrine of uberrimae fidei and correctly held that plaintiff's renewal policy was void ab initio. View "Quintero v. Geico Marine Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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The Eleventh Circuit certified three questions of insurance law to the Georgia Supreme Court: 1) When an insurer has no notice of a lawsuit against its insured, does O.C.G.A. 33-7-15 and a virtually identical insuring provision relieve the insurer of liability from a follow-on suit for bad faith? 2) If the notice provisions do not bar liability for a bad-faith claim, can an insured sue the insurer for bad faith when, after the insurer refused to settle but before judgment was entered against the insured, the insured lost coverage for failure to comply with a notice provision? 3) Does a party have the right to contest actual damages in a follow-on suit for bad faith if that party had no prior notice of or participation in the original suit? View "Whiteside v. GEICO Indemnity Co." on Justia Law

Posted in: Insurance Law
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Plaintiffs, collection agencies, appealed the district court's dismissals with prejudice of their claims against defendants, seeking double damages against defendants under the Medicare Secondary Payer Act and alleging that actors within the Medicare Advantage system, including Medicare Advantage Organizations (MAOs) and various "downstream actors" that contracted with MAOs, had assigned their Medicare Secondary Payer Act claims to plaintiffs for collection.The Eleventh Circuit vacated the dismissals of plaintiffs' claims based on assignments from downstream actors, holding that the district court erred by narrowly construing 42 U.S.C. 1395y(b)(3)(A) to categorically exclude claims by downstream actors. The court explained that both the text and the objective of section 1395y(b)(3)(A) support allowing downstream actors to bring suit, or assign their right to bring suit, against primary payers. Therefore, the court remanded these claims for further proceedings.The court found that the district court erred insofar as it dismissed MSPRC's HFAP claims with prejudice, and ordered that the district court's dismissal be without prejudice. The court also found that the district court erred in dismissing MSPA's FHCP and IMC claims based on the purported cancellation and validity of MSPA's assignments. Finally, defendants' alternative claims are without merit. The court vacated the dismissal of plaintiffs' remaining claims in case number 18-12149. In case number 18-13049, the court affirmed the dismissal of plaintiffs' claims but modified the dismissal of these claims to be without prejudice. View "MSP Recovery Claims, Series LLC v. Ace American Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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Nationwide appealed both the district court's order denying Nationwide's motion in limine and the final judgment entered in favor of plaintiff, as assignee of Gary Gardner & Gary Gardner Builders, Inc. At issue is the preclusive effect of a judgment entered by a federal court exercising diversity jurisdiction on a nonparty to an earlier federal action.The Eleventh Circuit held that when determining the preclusive effect of an earlier judgment rendered by a federal court exercising diversity jurisdiction, federal common law adopts the rules of issue preclusion applied by the State in which the rendering court sits. In this case, the court held that the district court was required to apply Alabama's rules of issue preclusion. Instead, the district court applied a federal rule of issue preclusion and that federal rule is not substantively similar to Alabama's rule on nonparty issue preclusion. Therefore, the court reversed the district court's order denying Nationwide's motion in limine, vacated the final judgment in favor of plaintiff, and remanded for further proceedings. View "Sellers v. Nationwide Mutual Fire Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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AEGIS filed suit alleging that it does not have a duty to defend or indemnify its insured ECI in an underlying state court action brought by a former tenant against ECI. In the underlying action, the tenant alleged that ECI wrongfully withheld the security deposits of current and former tenants in violation of Georgia's security deposit law.The Eleventh Circuit reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of AEGIS, holding that AEGIS has a duty to defend ECI in the underlying state court lawsuit against it because that action and certain relief sought, if proved, would constitute a covered "Loss" under the insurance policy. Although an award of the allegedly wrongfully withheld security deposit would not constitute a "Loss" under the policy, the court explained that any award of attorney's fees that ECI might become obligated to pay as part of the judgment in the underlying litigation would also fall within the policy's definition of "Loss." The court held that any award of attorney's fees under Georgia's security deposit law could constitute a potential "Loss" under the policy, and thus AEGIS maintains a duty to defend ECI. The court declined to offer any opinion as to whether AEGIS, in addition to its duty to defend, has any duty to indemnify ECI. View "AEGIS Electric & Gas International Services Ltd. v. ECI Management LLC" on Justia Law

Posted in: Insurance Law
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In 2018, TVPX filed an amended class action complaint in the Eastern District of Virginia against Genworth, alleging that Genworth violated the terms of one of its life insurance policies by imposing inflated "cost of insurance" (COI) charges on its insureds. Genworth brought this action in district court seeking to enjoin TVPX's Virginia lawsuit, arguing that TVPX's claims were barred by a 2004 agreement settling a prior class action about the same life insurance policies. The district court then granted Genworth's motion to enjoin TVPX's Virginia action, finding that TVPX's complaint was barred by the doctrine of res judicata.The Fifth Circuit vacated the district court's order enjoining TVPX's Virginia lawsuit. Although the primary right and duty at issue in TVPX's complaint were also at issue in the settlement, the court held that the record does not support the district court's finding that Genworth's "cost of insurance" (COI) practices remain unchanged since the settlement. The court remanded to the district court for limited discovery on whether Genworth has in any way changed how it calculates and charges COI since the settlement. Finally, the court held that, when read in its entirety, the Pre-Settlement Policy Administration does not constitute a preservation of rights, but instead clarifies that Genworth may continue administering its policies in the same manner that it did before the settlement. View "Genworth Life and Annuity Insurance Co. v. TVPX ARS, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit against Liberty Mutual for breach of contract and bad faith under Alabama law after the insurer denied coverage for an infestation of brown recluse spiders in plaintiffs' home. The court held that the homeowners insurance policy excluded coverage for property damage caused by insects or vermin, and that brown recluse spiders are both "insects" and "vermin" under the ordinary meaning of those terms. Furthermore, the district court did not err by consulting dictionaries to determine these legislative facts. View "Robinson v. Liberty Mutual Insurance Co." on Justia Law