Westlaw Topical Highlights: Insurance, June 17, 2016

June 17, 2016

insuranceWestlaw Topical Highlights for Insurance provides summaries of significant federal and state judicial decisions and legislative and administrative activities affecting Insurance law.  A Westlaw subscription is required to access the documents linked from this page.

Damages: Attorney fees spent to recover insurance benefits may be included in calculating ratio of punitive to compensatory damages.  Nickerson v. Stonebridge Life Ins. Co. 2016 WL 3192499 (Cal.) When a plaintiff’s compensatory damages include the attorney fees the plaintiff was compelled to expend to obtain the insurance benefits to which he was entitled, such attorney fees may be included in the calculation of the ratio of punitive to compensatory damages to determine whether the punitive damages award is “grossly excessive” in violation of the due process clause, even when the fees are awarded by the trial court after the jury has rendered its verdict. The question for courts determining the excessiveness issue is not whether the jury’s verdict is unreasonable based on the facts. Rather, courts make an independent determination whether the amount of the award exceeds the state’s power to punish. Thus, when a punitive damages award is grossly excessive, the appropriate order is for an absolute reduction in the award, rather than a conditional reduction with the alternative of a new trial. 2016 WL 3192499 (The full-text of the rest of the Topical Highlights is available within Thomson Reuters Westlaw, subscription required).     

Motion Practice: Property insurer’s motion was required to be treated as motion to dismiss for failure to state claim, rather than for lack of jurisdiction.  Davis v. Wells Fargo 2016 WL 3033938 (C.A.3 (Pa.))

Bad Faith and Unfair Practices: Sanction of striking of insurer’s answer and entering default judgment against it was warranted under court’s inherent power.  Sell v. Country Life Insurance Company 2016 WL 3179461 (D.Ariz.)

Liability: Fact issues precluded summary judgment that profit exclusion of D&O policy barred coverage for representations inducing company to continue product development.  Winbrook Communication Services, Inc. v. United States Liability Ins. Co. 2016 WL 3245059 (Mass.App.Ct.)