Posts tagged "1010817"

Mount Vernon Fire Insurance Company v. Visionaid, Inc. (Lawyers Weekly No. 10-108-17)

NOTICE:  All slip opinions and orders are subject to formal revision and are superseded by the advance sheets and bound volumes of the Official Reports.  If you find a typographical error or other formal error, please notify the Reporter of Decisions, Supreme Judicial Court, John Adams Courthouse, 1 Pemberton Square, Suite 2500, Boston, MA, 02108-1750; (617) 557-1030; SJCReporter@sjc.state.ma.us   SJC-12142   MOUNT VERNON FIRE INSURANCE COMPANY  vs.  VISIONAID, INC.[1]       Suffolk.     December 5, 2016. – June 22, 2017.   Present:  Gants, C.J., Lenk, Hines, Gaziano, Lowy, Budd, & Cypher, JJ.     Insurance, Insurer’s obligation to defend.       Certification of questions of law to the Supreme Judicial Court by the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit.     Kenneth R. Berman (Heather B. Repicky also present) for the defendant. James J. Duane, III (Scarlett M. Rajbanshi also present) for the plaintiff. The following submitted briefs for amici curiae: Marshall Gilinsky for United Policyholders. Laura Foggan, of the District of Columbia, & Rosanna Sattler for American Insurance Association & others. Michael F. Aylward for American International Group, Inc., & another.     GAZIANO, J.  In this case we are called upon to answer three certified questions from the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit involving the scope of an insurer’s duty to defend, and whether that duty extends to a counterclaim brought by the insured.  For the reasons that follow, we conclude that where an insurance policy provides that the insurer has the “duty to defend any claim” initiated against the insured, the insurer’s duty to defend does not require it to prosecute affirmative counterclaims on behalf of its insured.[2] Facts and prior proceedings.  We recite the facts based on the United States District Court judge’s memorandum of decision, the decision by the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, and the undisputed documents in the record.  Visionaid, Inc. (Visionaid),[3] is a manufacturer of lens cleaning and eye safety products.  It purchased an employment practices liability insurance policy from Mount Vernon Fire Insurance Company (Mount Vernon), which covered, among other things, wrongful termination claims brought against Visionaid from May, 2011, through May, 2012. As relevant here, the policy imposed two duties on Mount Vernon with respect to any wrongful termination claim brought against Visionaid.  The policy provided that Mount Vernon had “the right and duty to defend any Claim to which this insurance applies,” and that it was obligated to “pay one hundred percent (100%) of the Defense Costs for the [covered] Claim” up to the policy limit.  Under the terms of the policy, “Claim” was defined as “any proceeding initiated against [Visionaid] . . . seeking to hold [Visionaid] responsible for […]

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Posted by Massachusetts Legal Resources - June 22, 2017 at 5:46 pm

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