Monthly Archives: May 2013

Claims Handling Reminders for Oklahoma Storm Losses

C. Wesley Vines, Admitted to Practice in OK since 1983 and TX since 1990 In light of the recent devastating storms in Oklahoma, it is worth bearing in mind: (1) Oklahoma’s basic rules for interpreting insurance policies, including the “reasonable expectation doctrine,” (2) Oklahoma’s standard for determining “actual cash value,” including the “broad evidence rule,” and (3) Oklahoma’s standard of good faith and fair dealing. In Redcorn vs. State Farm Ins. Co., 55 P.3d 1017 (Okla. 2002), the Oklahoma Supreme Court held that an insurance policy is a contract and the same principles generally apply to the construction of a policy of insurance as apply to any adhesion contract.  The parties to a contract for insurance are free to choose

Posted in Bad Faith

Senate Bill 814 Proposes Sweeping and Retroactive Changes to Environmental Claims Handling in Oregon

On March 13, 2013, the Oregon legislature introduced Senate Bill 814 to create sweeping reforms on environmental claims handling regulations and available remedies for insureds facing liability for cleanup of contaminated property located in the state. The proposed legislation would amend the existing Oregon Environmental Cleanup Assistance Act (OECAA) under ORS 465.479 and ORS 465.465 to impose stricter claims handling regulations, create a statutory cause of action for violations of the regulations, and allow punitive damages to be awarded if the court finds the insurer acted unreasonably. Because the OECAA provides that “Oregon law shall be applied in all cases where the contaminated property to which the action related is located within the State of Oregon,”1 the legislation has the

Posted in Bad Faith

Estée Lauder v. OneBeacon Insurance Group – Expanding the Scope of Discovery in Bad Faith Cases

On April 15, 2013, a New York trial court granted the insured’s request for the production of certain claims file material and previously sealed discovery in Estée Lauder Inc. v. OneBeacon Insurance Group LLC et al., index number 602379/2005, leaving insurers with yet another troubling instance of a broadened scope of discovery in bad faith cases. The trial court denied categorical protection for documents created by the insurer during the course of litigation, even if licensed attorneys were involved in the creation of such post-filing documents. Instead, the court was clear – post-litigation documents that relate to the alleged post-filing bad faith conduct are discoverable, unless the insurer demonstrates that the specific document for which it is seeking protection is

Posted in Bad Faith

Good Faith Denial of Benefits When Insurer Relies on Rulings of Workers’ Compensation Court

Last week, the Montana Supreme Court held that the insurer acted reasonably when it stopped payments based upon its reliance on a prior order from the Workers’ Compensation Court (“WCC”).  Steward v. Liberty Northwest Ins. Corp., 2013 WK 1739577, *7 (Mont. Apr. 23, 2013).  The insurer terminated payments to the claimant without notice, but only after the insurer reviewed an order from the WCC.  The WCC denied the claimant’s request for an increased impairment rating because it did not see any causal relationship between the complained pain issues and the claimant’s on-the-job injury.  In addition, after a short break in payments, the insurer resumed paying for the pain patches under a reservation of rights. The Court held that since the

Posted in Worker's Compensation
Avoiding Insurance Bad Faith
Cozen O’Connor represents insurance clients in jurisdictions throughout the U.S. against statutory and common law first- and third-party extracontractual claims for actual and consequential damages, penalties, punitive and exemplary damages, attorneys’ fees and costs, and coverage payments. Whether bad faith claims are addenda to a broader coverage matter or are central to the complaint, Cozen O’Connor attorneys know how to efficiently respond to extracontractual causes of action. More
Editors
Cozen O’Connor Blogs