Greg Scher and Lisa Alderton obtained a defense verdict for an insurer client in the United Stated District Court for the Central District of California in a case involving bad faith allegations following a total loss house fire near Lake Arrowhead, California. The adjuster paid the Coverage A Building limit of the fire policy, which wasn’t sufficient to rebuild the insured’s recently remodeled house. The policy contained Extended Replacement cost coverage, however, providing an additional 25% of the coverage A limit. The insured inquired whether he could replace the house in a different location and still recover the ERC limits. The adjuster consulted with his supervisors and then told the insured that he could. In reliance, the insured purchased a new house in a different location. When the insured sought the ERC limits to cover the cost of the new house, the adjuster told him the ERC coverage was not available to him because he replaced in a different location. The jury deliberated 2½ hours before returning a defense verdict.
Lisa Alderton recently prevailed in an insurance "bad faith" case before the United States District Court in San Francisco. Lisa represented an insurance carrier client which issued a claims “first made and reported” policy to a real estate broker and denied the broker's claim for defense to a suit alleging professional negligence arising from the failed sale of a home on the grounds that the insured received a demand letter threatening suit before the insurance policy issued. Therefore, the claim was first made before the policy period.
The insured broker denied any knowledge of the tender, assigned to the claimant her rights as against the insurer and stipulated to a $3.3 million judgment in exchange for a covenant not to execute on the judgment against the insured. The judgment creditor claimant then sued the insurer for bad faith. Lisa moved for summary judgment, convincing the Court that the denial was reasonably made. The Court eliminated the claim for breach of the implied covenant of good faith, as well as the claims for punitive damages and attorney fees.
Lisa Alderton obtained summary judgment for an insurer which received tender of a habitability case from a second carrier which insured the same risk. Although the firm's client agreed to defend under a reservation of rights, the insured refused to provide information to appointed defense counsel and refused to allow appointed defense counsel to associate into the case. The insured then settled the habitability case without allowing the insurer to participate. Woolls & Peer sought a judicial declaration that the insured had violated his contractual duty to cooperate, thereby extinguishing any right to coverage. The court agreed, declaring that our client owed no duty to defend, indemnify, or reimburse the insured for independent counsel fees.
Lisa Alderton obtained summary judgment for an insurance carrier which issued two consecutive professional liability policies to lawyer insureds. The policies were written on a claims made and reported basis. Shortly after renewal, the insured tendered the defense of a Probate Court petition regarding the insured’s handling of a trust filed by one of the trust beneficiaries. The insurer agreed to defend, then learned that another beneficiary of the same trust had previously filed a petition against the insured alleging the same wrongdoing and seeking damages. The prior petition was never tendered or disclosed to the insurer. Woolls & Peer filed a declaratory relief action and moved for summary judgment. The federal District Court agreed that the insurer had no duty to defend or indemnify and awarded judgment in favor of our firm's client in the sum of $350,226.70, the sum the client spent to defend the insured against the probate court matters.
Lisa Alderton prevailed in a trial seeking contribution from an insurance carrier's insured and three of his other liability carriers toward defense costs and settlements a firm client made in connection with a series of habitability lawsuits. Settlements were reached with the insured and two of his insurers, but the case proceeded to trial against California Fair Plan Association. Following trial, judgment was entered in favor of the firm's client, netting a recovery of more than 70% of the sums the client had paid to defend and settle the underlying claims.