Justia U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Insurance Law
National Union Fire Insurance Co. of Pittsburgh v. American Guarantee & Liability Insurance Co.
The Eleventh Circuit vacated the district court's grant of summary judgment to AIG in an action filed by AGLIC claiming that AIG, acting as a primary insurer, improperly allocated settlement payments between two insurance policies on behalf of their mutual insured, Imperial. The court held that, because the interests of St. Paul and AGLIC were coextensive, there was an absence of complete diversity of citizenship, and the district court lacked the power to entertain the matter in the first place. Therefore, the court remanded with instructions to dismiss. View "National Union Fire Insurance Co. of Pittsburgh v. American Guarantee & Liability Insurance Co." on Justia Law
Bailey v. Rocky Mountain Holdings, LLC
The Airline Deregulation Act preempts a cause of action against an air ambulance provider based on a provision of the Florida Motor Vehicle No Fault Law, Florida Statutes 627.730–627.7405. The Eleventh Circuit held that the insured in this case sought to restrict the prices of the air carrier and the ADA preempted it from doing so. The court explained that the McCarran-Ferguson Act did not interfere with preemption because the balance billing provision, on which the action rests, has nothing to do with the relationship between an insurer and an insured and therefore does not regulate the business of insurance. View "Bailey v. Rocky Mountain Holdings, LLC" on Justia Law
Underwriters at Lloyds Subscribing to Cover Note B0753PC1308275000 v. Expeditors Korea Ltd.
After transporters damaged cargo, Lloyds filed suit seeking to recover from the transporters the damages that Lloyds paid to its insured. The Eleventh Circuit explained that, because the transporters damaged one part of a machine that could not operate without the damaged part, the extent of the transporters' liability depended on whether the Montreal Convention or the waybill controlled. The court held that the district court erred in ruling that the Montreal Convention governed the transporters' liability, but rather, the waybill governed the transporters' liability. Because the waybill was ambiguous about the weight that should be used to calculate liability, the court remanded the case for the district court to address the issue in the first instance. View "Underwriters at Lloyds Subscribing to Cover Note B0753PC1308275000 v. Expeditors Korea Ltd." on Justia Law
Altman Contractors, Inc. v. Crum & Forster Specialty Insurance Co.
The Florida Supreme Court answered the Eleventh Circuit's certified question, stating that the notice and repair process set forth in Chapter 558 of the Florida Statutes is a "suit" within the meaning of the CGL policies issued by C&F to ACI. The state court explained that although the chapter 558 process did not constitute a civil proceeding, it was included in the policy's definition of suit as an alternative dispute resolution proceeding to which the insurer's consent was required to invoke the insurer's duty to defend the insured. In light of the state court's answer of the certified question, the court reversed the district court's grant of summary judgment for C&F, vacated the final judgment, and remanded to the district court for further proceedings. View "Altman Contractors, Inc. v. Crum & Forster Specialty Insurance Co." on Justia Law
Southern-Owners Insurance Co. v. Moore
Southern-Owners filed suit seeking a declaratory judgment absolving it of the duty to indemnify or defend Easdon Rhodes, or the other defendants, in an underlying negligence suit. The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment, holding that the vehicle driven by Joshua Rhodes, one of Easdon Rhodes' members, did not qualify for coverage under the terms of the Endorsement, and, even if the vehicle had qualified, the existence of a separate insurance policy also covering the accident triggered the Endorsement's exclusion clause absolving Southern-Owners of its duties under the policy. View "Southern-Owners Insurance Co. v. Moore" on Justia Law
Stettin v. National Union Fire Insurance Co.
This appeal arose out of the Ponzi scheme orchestrated by Scott Rothstein through his law firm, Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler (RRA). Trustees of RRA filed suit alleging breach of contract and bad faith claims against insurance carriers that reached a settlement with Gibraltar and its executives after originally denying coverage. The Eleventh Circuit applied Florida law and exercised plenary review, holding that coverage was barred by a "professional services exclusion" found in each of the policies. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's grant of the insurers' motion to dismiss. View "Stettin v. National Union Fire Insurance Co." on Justia Law
Grange Mutual Casualty Co. v. Woodard
Answering certified questions from the Eleventh Circuit, the Supreme Court of Georgia concluded that, while O.C.G.A. 9-11-67.1 sets forth certain terms and conditions that must be included in every written offer of settlement, nothing in Georgia law or the statute precludes parties from requiring "some additional act to effectuate acceptance;" O.C.G.A. 9-11-67.1 permits unilateral contracts whereby Pre-Suit Offers may demand acceptance in the form of performance before there was a binding enforceable settlement contract; and O.C.G.A. 9-11-67.1 does not preclude a Pre-Suit Offer from demanding timely payment as a condition of acceptance. In light of these answers, the Eleventh Circuit held that the district court correctly determined that O.C.G.A. 9-11-67.1 does not prohibit a party from requiring timely payment as a condition of acceptance of a settlement offer; the offer letter in this case unambiguously conditioned acceptance on timely payment; the insurers' issuance of two $50,000 checks with incomplete addresses, which never reached defendants or their attorney, did not satisfy this timely-payment condition; and the insurer failed to accept defendants' settlement offer, thus preventing the formation of a binding settlement agreement. Accordingly, the court affirmed summary judgment for defendants. View "Grange Mutual Casualty Co. v. Woodard" on Justia Law
Bottini v. GEICO
The Eleventh Circuit reversed the grant of partial summary judgment on the binding effect of the verdict in the Circuit Court's breach-of-contract case and held that the parties must again litigate statutory damages. In this case, GEICO did not receive appellate review of the statutory-damages determination in the parties' underlying breach-of-contract case. Therefore, that damages determination did not bind the parties in this bad faith case. View "Bottini v. GEICO" on Justia Law
Zucker v. U.S. Specialty Insurance
Plaintiff filed suit against U.S. Specialty for breach of contract, based on its denial of coverage of fraudulent transfer claims in an underlying suit. The district court entered summary judgment for U.S. Specialty and entered judgment against plaintiff. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed, holding that, in light of Florida law, plaintiff's fraudulent conveyance claims "arose from" wrongful acts that predate November 10, 2008, and thus fell within the scope of the Prior Acts Exclusion of the U.S. Specialty policy. Furthermore, the policy's terms were unambiguous and its coverage was not illusory. Therefore, U.S. Specialty did not breach the insurance contract. View "Zucker v. U.S. Specialty Insurance" on Justia Law
Anderson v. Great American Alliance Insurance Co.
After Ulysses Anderson was involved in a car accident with an intoxicated driver who was driving a company vehicle with his employer's permission, a jury found the driver liable and awarded Anderson one million dollars. Great American, the employer's insurance company, filed suit for a declaration that the driver was not a permissive user – and thus not covered under the applicable insurance policies – because he broke internal company policies. The district court found that the driver was not an insured at the time of the accident, and that Great American owed no duty to cover the damages awarded at the trial of the underlying action. After the Georgia Supreme Court held that inquires into permissive use should extend only to whether a vehicle is used for an approved purpose in Strickland v. Georgia Cas. & Sur. Co., the Georgia Court of Appeals held that a company's internal rules can govern the scope of permissive use, and that violations thereof can negate an individual's status as an insured. In this case, the court found that the district court erred because it followed Barfield, and thus narrowed the scope of permissive use beyond what was permitted by Strickland. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded. View "Anderson v. Great American Alliance Insurance Co." on Justia Law