Articles Posted in Insurance Law

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The Mississippi Workers’ Compensation Group Self-Insurer Guaranty Association (“Guaranty Association”) was ordered by the Mississippi Workers’ Compensation Commission (“Commission”) to assess former members of the Mississippi Comp Choice Workers’ Compensation Self-Insurers Fund (“Comp Choice”). In 2010, the Commission found that “a careful evaluation of the remaining assets and outstanding claims unfortunately shows an insufficient amount of Comp Choice assets to cover the projected claim payout.” The Commission ordered an assessment of the former members of Comp Choice for the last four years showing losses. The former members did not pay their assessments, and the Guaranty Association sued. The former members of Comp Choice filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that the Guaranty Association ignored their right of appeal and that the action was not ripe for consideration, was improper, and/or was premature and should be dismissed. The Circuit Court denied Comp Choice’s motion to dismiss, and ultimately ruled against the former members. Finding no reversible error in the judgment, the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed. View "Scott Penn, Inc. v. Mississippi Workers' Compensation Group Self-Insurer Guaranty Association" on Justia Law

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As Greg Peters and Mike Williams were attempting to position Peters’ fishing boat on its trailer, the winch handle recoiled, struck, and seriously injured Williams. Peters, who owned the truck, the trailer, and the boat, had two liability insurance policies covering bodily injury: his truck and trailer were insured by Allstate Property and Casualty Insurance Company (Allstate) and his boat was insured by Continental Casualty Company (Continental). Ultimately, the insurers settled with Williams for $460,000, each paying $230,000 toward the total settlement. Prior to settlement, however, the insurers had not agreed on apportionment. Continental sought a declaratory judgment that it was indemnified by Allstate based on its apportionment theory and also reimbursement for the defense costs it had incurred investigating the claim. Allstate moved to dismiss, seeking indemnity from Allstate based on its own apportionment theory and also sanctions against Continental for having made its defense costs and expenses claim. The circuit court treated the motion to dismiss as a motion for partial summary judgment and granted summary judgment in Allstate’s favor, but declined to award sanctions. Allstate then moved for summary judgment on Continental’s remaining indemnity claim, which the circuit court granted. Continental appealed the grant of summary judgment on its indemnity claim. Allstate cross-appealed the denial of sanctions. As to Continental’s indemnity claim, the Mississippi Supreme Court reversed summary judgment to Allstate and rendered judgment in favor of Continental. As to Continental’s claim of entitlement to defense costs, the Court affirmed summary judgment for Allstate. The Court affirmed the denial of sanctions. View "Continental Casualty Co. v. Allstate Property & Casualty Ins. Co." on Justia Law

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Laser Line Construction Company, LLC,(“Laser Line”) purchased statutory workers’ compensation insurance coverage from the Builders and Contractors Association of Mississippi (“BCAM”) Self Insurers’ Fund. Because Laser Line was a general contractor, BCAM sought premium payments for all employees of Laser Line’s subcontractors who did not independently secure workers’ compensation coverage. Laser Line refused to pay premiums for employees of subcontractors who had fewer than five employees and claimed they were thus exempt from the coverage requirement. BCAM canceled Laser Line’s coverage for nonpayment. Laser Line filed suit for damages and a declaratory judgment. The defendants answered, and BCAM separately filed a counterclaim. The parties filed competing summary judgment motions. The trial court granted Laser Line a partial summary judgment on the statutory interpretation issue. BCAM sought and was granted permission to file an interlocutory appeal. Mississippi Code Section 71-3-7 required general contractors secure workers’ compensation coverage for the employees of its uninsured subcontractors; the Mississippi Supreme Court found consistent with the unambiguous language of the statute and its own prior opinions, the number of employees of the subcontractor was not a factor in determining general-contractor liability under the Act. Thus, the trial judge’s contrary ruling was in error. View "Builders & Contractors Association of Mississippi, v. Laser Line Construction Company, LLC" on Justia Law

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Beth Rylee’s husband, Richard Rylee, was injured in a motorcycle accident. After the Rylees received the full "each person" policy limit for damages resulting from Richard’s bodily injury, the Rylees sued their two insurers. They claimed Beth was entitled to her own each-person policy limit for her "separate and distinct" loss-of-consortium claim. But both the language of the relevant policies and the Mississippi Supreme Court’s precedent were clear: if there was only one person who suffered bodily injury in an accident, then all claims based on that person’s bodily injury are included in the each-person policy limit. Only Richard was injured in the accident, so Beth's loss-of-consortium claim fell under the each-person policy limit for damages arising from Richard’s bodily injury, which the two defendant insurance companies already satisfied. The Supreme Court therefore affirmed the circuit court’s grant of summary judgment to the two insurers. View "Rylee v. Progressive Gulf Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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After suffering a fall at work, Linda Mitchell returned to the same position she had before her injury, and continued to work for more than seven months until she was terminated for a cause unrelated to the injury. She then sought and was awarded disability benefits from the Mississippi Workers’ Compensation Commission. But because the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) and Commission both failed to recognize that Mitchell’s return to work created a rebuttable presumption that she suffered no loss of earning capacity, the Supreme Court reversed the award of disability benefits and remanded this case to the Commission to apply the correct legal standard. View "Hudspeth Regional Center v. Mitchell" on Justia Law

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Sharel Kenney appealed the trial court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of USAA Casualty Insurance Company (USAA-CIC) and Foremost Insurance Company (Foremost). Kenney purchased a motorcycle in Slidell, Louisiana. Kenney, a Louisiana resident, completed a Louisiana Motorcycle Insurance Application with Foremost, which included an Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Bodily Injury Coverage Form (“UMBI Form”). Pursuant to the Form, Kenney elected not to purchase UMBI coverage. Following receipt of the application and the UMBI Form, Foremost issued a policy to Kenney. Daniel Steilberg, Kenney’s fiancé, was listed as an operator on the insurance policy. While riding the motorcycle, Kenney and Steilberg were involved in an accident with an uninsured motorist on Highway I-90 in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. After the accident, Kenney made claims for uninsured-motorist coverage under three separate policies. Kenney did receive payments from Foremost representing the actual cash value for property damage to the motorcycle. Kenney also filed a claim with USAA-CIC, the insurer for Kenney’s Dodge Charger, but she was denied payment for medical expenses and uninsured/underinsured-motorist coverage. After the denials of coverage, Kenney filed suit against the uninsured motorise, Foremost, USAA-CIC and Steilberg, Finding that the trial court erred in granting summary judgment as to Foremost but not as to USAA-CIC, the Supreme Court affirmed the trial court in part and reversed and remanded in part. View "Kenney v. Foremost Insurance Co." on Justia Law

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An employee of NTC Transportation, Inc. (“NTC”) filed petitions with the Mississippi Workers’ Compensation Commission (“the Commission”), claiming he had suffered compensable work-related injuries on two occasions. AmFed National Insurance Co. (“Amfed”), believing NTC’s workers’ compensation coverage to have lapsed due to NTC’s failure to timely pay the premium, responded and denied both liability and coverage as to the latter injury. AmFed’s denial of coverage was litigated and culminated in a judgment rendered in NTC’s favor. Based on the applicable law and particular facts of this case, the Supreme Court found that NTC had no insurance coverage with AmFed in effect at the time of the relevant injury. Accordingly, the Court reversed and remanded. View "Amfed National Insurance Co. v. NTC Transportation, Inc." on Justia Law

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Gay St. Mary Williams and her husband, Larry Williams, filed a complaint against William Tucker and two insurance companies. The Williamses alleged that Mrs. Williams had been severely injured in a motor vehicle accident caused by Tucker. When Tucker failed to answer, the circuit clerk entered a default. The trial court denied Tucker’s motion to set aside the entry of default and his motion for reconsideration. After a hearing, the trial court awarded damages in the amount of $2,962,984.60, plus $300,000 to Larry Williams for loss of consortium, and entered a default judgment in favor of the Williamses. Tucker appealed, arguing that the trial court’s refusal to set aside the entry of default was an abuse of discretion. Alternatively, he challenged portions of the damages award. The Supreme Court found that under a liberal standard applicable to setting aside default judgments, the trial court abused its discretion by refusing to set aside the entry of default in this case. Therefore, the Court reversed the judgment of the trial court and remanded this case for further proceedings. View "Tucker v. Williams" on Justia Law

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Arrowood Indemnity Company, a member of the Mississippi Windstorm Underwriting Association (“the Windpool”), submitted its premium data as required for a post-Katrina data-correction process. Arrowood failed to claim the appropriate credits available to it by statute which, it alleged, resulted in a nearly five-million-dollar overpayment. Arrowood had based its data submission on incorrect information provided by the Windpool, so it requested an opportunity to submit the correct information. The Windpool denied its request because the deadline for corrections had passed. The Mississippi Insurance Commissioner and the Chancery Court affirmed the Windpool’s decision. After its review, the Mississippi Supreme Court found that the Windpool’s deadline was tolled under the facts of this case because its incorrect representation precipitated Arrowood’s incorrect data submission. The Court reversed the decisions of the Insurance Commissioner and the Hinds County Chancery Court and remanded this case for further proceedings. View "Arrowood Indemnity Company v. Mississippi Windstorm Underwriting Association" on Justia Law

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Sweet Valley Missionary Baptist Church appealed a circuit court order denying its request for prejudgment interest against Alfa Insurance Company. This suit arose from a 2005 insurance claim Sweet Valley filed with Alfa Insurance Corporation (“Alfa”), following storm damage to its property caused by Hurricane Katrina. Sweet Valley had a commercial insurance policy with Alfa Insurance. Sweet Valley filed suit against Alfa for breach of contract and alleged that Alfa had undervalued its claim. Sweet Valley requested prejudgment interest in its complaint. It was determined that Sweet Valley was entitled to $462,761.89. Alfa remitted the full amount to Sweet Valley. Subsequently, Alfa filed a motion for summary judgment, alleging that, since an appraisal had been conducted and it already had paid Sweet Valley $462,761.89, no genuine issues remained. The trial court granted Alfa’s motion. Because there was no judgment in this instance upon which interest could accrue, the Supreme Court affirmed the trial court’s judgment. View "Sweet Valley Missionary Baptist Church v. Alfa Insurance Corporation" on Justia Law