Posts tagged "Casualty"

Williamson-Green v. Interstate Fire and Casualty Company (Lawyers Weekly No. 12-062-17)

COMMONWEALTH OF MASSACHUSETTS SUFFOLK, ss. SUPERIOR COURT. 1684CV03141-BLS2 ____________________ MICHELLE WILLIAMSON-GREEN, as Administratrix of the Estate of James W. Williamson IV v. INTERSTATE FIRE AND CASUALTY COMPANY ____________________ MEMORANDUM AND ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT’S MOTION FOR PARTIAL JUDGMENT ON THE PLEADINGS James W. Williamson IV died from injuries sustained while he was inspecting a roof from a bucket lift that tipped over. His estate brought a wrongful death action against both the lift manufacturer and the company that had had rented out the lift, Equipment 4 Rent, Inc. (“E4R”). The jury found that the manufacturer and E4R were both negligent and awarded compensatory damages of $ 4.3 million. It also found that “E4R’s conduct was grossly negligent, willful, wanton, or reckless” and awarded additional punitive damages of $ 5.9 million, as allowed under G.L. c. 229, § 2. Interstate Fire and Casualty Company had insured E4R. It paid E4R’s share of the compensatory damages but refused to pay any part of the punitive damage award. In this action Plaintiff claims that Interstate failed to settle the claims against E4R after its liability had become reasonably clear. She asserts one claim on behalf of Mr. Williamson’s estate and four claims as E4R’s assignee. The assigned claims allege that E4R’s damages include “being exposed to an uncovered punitive damages award that would have been avoided had Interstate settled the Underlying Action.” Interstate has moved for judgment on the pleadings on the assigned claims. It argues that requiring an insurer to pay any part of a punitive damages award, even as consequential damages arising from the insurer’s failure to settle a meritorious claim, would be against public policy. The Court must DENY Interstate’s motion because Massachusetts law does not insulate an insurer from liability for damages incurred because its insured caused bodily injury, engaged in reckless or grossly negligent misconduct, or did both. The limitation on insurers’ liability sought by Interstate would be inconsistent with G.L. c. 175, § 47, cl. Sixth (b), which “codifies the entire public policy” of Massachusetts regarding the insurability of losses – 2 – resulting from reckless misconduct. Andover Newton Theological Sch., Inc. v. Cont’l Cas. Co., 409 Mass. 350, 353 n.2 (1991).1 1. Insurers’ Liability for Failing to Settle Claims. Once an insured’s liability for a particular claim has become reasonably clear, the insurer has a duty under Massachusetts law to make a fair offer to settle the claim and to do so promptly. This duty is imposed on all insurers by statute. See G.L. c. 176D, § 3(9)(f); Hopkins v. Liberty Mut. Ins. Co., 434 Mass. 556, 566-567 (2001). In many cases it is also an implicit part of the insurer’s contractual obligations. When an insurance policy […]

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Posted by Massachusetts Legal Resources - May 31, 2017 at 7:51 pm

Categories: News   Tags: , , , , , , ,

Lumbermens Mutual Casualty Company v. Workers’ Compensation Trust Fund (Lawyers Weekly No. 11-128-15)

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   13-P-1982                                       Appeals Court LUMBERMENS MUTUAL CASUALTY COMPANY  vs.  WORKERS’ COMPENSATION TRUST FUND. No. 13-P-1982 Suffolk.     June 2, 2015. – September 3, 2015.   Present:  Vuono, Grainger, & Blake, JJ. Workers’ Compensation Act, Reimbursement of insurer.  Insurance, Insolvency of insurer.  Administrative Law, Primary jurisdiction, Exhaustion of remedies, Agency’s interpretation of statute.     Civil action commenced in the Superior Court Department on May 21, 2013.   The case was heard by Heidi E. Brieger, J.     W. Frederick Uehlein for the plaintiff. Douglas S. Martland, Assistant Attorney General, for the defendant.      GRAINGER, J.  Lumbermens Mutual Casualty Company in liquidation (Lumbermens) appeals from the Superior Court judgment dismissing its claim against the Workers’ Compensation Trust Fund (trust fund).  Lumbermens sought partial reimbursement from the fund for workers’ compensation payments made pursuant to G. L. c. 152, §§ 37 and 65.  A Superior Court judge dismissed the claim under the doctrine of primary jurisdiction.  We affirm. Background.  We summarize the undisputed facts.  Lumbermens, an Illinois Corporation, was licensed to issue workers’ compensation insurance policies in Massachusetts.  Payments under these policies included so-called “second injury” benefits awarded pursuant to G. L. c. 152, § 37.[1]  The trust fund is authorized by that statute to provide partial reimbursement to insurers for second injury payments.  Between 2000 and 2008 Lumbermens and the trust fund entered into agreements in six separate cases, referred to as Form 123 agreements,[2] establishing the reimbursement percentage to be applied to “second injury” payments made by Lumbermens in each case. In July, 2012, Lumbermens was placed into rehabilitation, also referred to as a “run-off” period, whereby it could not issue new policies but continued to administer existing policies.  The trust fund, which had made reimbursement payments pursuant to the Form 123 agreements until Lumbermens entered the run-off period, thereafter refused further payment.  The trust fund asserted that Lumbermens was no longer entitled to reimbursement once the run-off period commenced because it was no longer an “insurer” able to issue policies, as that term is defined in G. L. c. 152, § 1(7). Ten months later, in May, 2013, Lumbermens was placed in liquidation. Approximately one year thereafter Lumbermens filed a complaint for enforcement of the six Form 123 agreements in Superior Court.  A Superior Court judge dismissed the complaint, finding that Lumbermen’s claims were more properly heard before the reviewing board (board) of the Department of Industrial Accidents (DIA) under the […]

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Posted by Massachusetts Legal Resources - September 4, 2015 at 7:46 am

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Maryland Casualty Company, et al. v. NSTAR Electric Company, et al. (Lawyers Weekly No. 10-079-15)

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-11741   MARYLAND CASUALTY COMPANY[1] & another[2]  vs.  NSTAR ELECTRIC COMPANY & another.[3] Middlesex.     January 5, 2015. – May 14, 2015.   Present:  Gants, C.J., Spina, Cordy, Botsford, Duffly, Lenk, & Hines, JJ.     Department of Public Utilities.  Public Utilities, Electric company, Rate structure, Negligence.  Negligence, Public utilities, Limitation of liability.       Civil action commenced in the Superior Court Department on March 27, 2008.   The case was heard by Dennis J. Curran, J., on motions for summary judgment, and entry of a stipulated final judgment was ordered by him.   The Supreme Judicial Court on its own initiative transferred the case from the Appeals Court.     Matthew M. O’Leary (Andrew J. Fay with him) for the plaintiffs. Andrea Peraner-Sweet (Barbara L. Drury with her) for the defendants.     LENK, J.  This case raises the question whether a tariff filed with and approved by the Department of Public Utilities (DPU) may limit a public utility from liability to nonresidential customers for special, indirect, or consequential damages resulting from the utility’s gross negligence.  We hold that a properly approved tariff may so limit a public utility’s liability. 1.  Background.  On December 8, 2006, two employees of NSTAR Electric and Gas were performing a switching procedure to restore electrical equipment that had been taken out of service.  During the procedure, an explosion occurred, igniting a fire in the basement of a building at One Broadway in Cambridge.  Smoke filled the basement and flowed into the stairwells leading up to the other floors of the building.  The fire and smoke resulted in extensive damage to the building, requiring its closure for approximately six weeks.  Construction and repairs continued for a lengthy period of time thereafter. At the time of the fire, the building was owned by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).  MIT leased space in the building to Cambridge Incubator, Inc. (Cambridge Incubator),[4] Sedo.com, LLC (Sedo), and Allodia Corporation (Allodia).  Cambridge Incubator and Sedo purchased insurance coverage from Maryland Casualty Corporation (Maryland Casualty); Allodia purchased insurance coverage from Assurance Company of America (Assurance).  In the wake of the fire, Maryland Casualty paid claims by Cambridge Incubator and Sedo, and Assurance paid claims by Allodia. Maryland Casualty and Assurance then brought this complaint against NSTAR Electric Company and NSTAR Electric & Gas Company (collectively, NSTAR), seeking to recover for […]

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Posted by Massachusetts Legal Resources - May 14, 2015 at 2:58 pm

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Verrill Farms, LLC v. Farm Family Casualty Insurance Company (Lawyers Weekly No. 11-141-14)

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   13-P-1747                                       Appeals Court   VERRILL FARMS, LLC  vs.  FARM FAMILY CASUALTY INSURANCE COMPANY. No. 13-P-1747. Middlesex.     May 2, 2014. – November 4, 2014.   Present:  Trainor, Fecteau, & Carhart, JJ.     Insurance, Business owner’s policy, Amount of recovery for loss, Construction of policy.  Contract, Insurance.       Civil action commenced in the Superior Court Department on September 17, 2010.   The case was heard by Kimberly S. Budd, J., on motions for summary judgment.     Barry P. Fogel for the plaintiff. William A. Schneider for the defendant.      TRAINOR, J.  The plaintiff, Verrill Farms, LLC (Verrill Farms), owns and operates a retail farm store in Concord.  The defendant, Farm Family Casualty Insurance Company (Farm Family), issued a “Businessowners Advantage Insurance Policy” (policy) effective August 4, 2008, to August 4, 2009, to Verrill Farms.  On September 20, 2008, Verrill Farms suffered a fire loss to its farm store.  Within two days of the fire, Verrill Farms reopened its business at alternate locations at reduced capacity.  Within another month, the business had resumed nearly full capacity in temporary facilities at nearby locations.  After the fire and during the process of restarting the business at the alternate locations, no employees were laid off.  All employees who remained on the payroll were involved in operations that allowed Verrill Farms to maintain its business and generate income. Verrill Farms submitted a claim under the policy for loss of business income, based on its loss of net income (net profit or loss) in the year after the fire, which it believed the policy covered under the loss of business income coverage.  Farm Family paid a sum considerably less than the claim made by Verrill Farms, based on its interpretation of what expenses can be included in a calculation of net profit or loss in order to determine loss of business income under the policy.[1]  Farm Family describes the question as whether it has to “pay” Verrill Farms for the cost of its ordinary payroll expense during the period of restoration, beyond the sixty-day limit contained in the policy.  See note 7, infra.  The Superior Court judge declared that Farm Family did not have to pay the cost of ordinary payroll beyond the sixty-day limit and granted summary judgment in Farm Family’s favor.  This, however, is not what Verrill Farms was seeking to recover and […]

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Posted by Massachusetts Legal Resources - November 4, 2014 at 3:51 pm

Categories: News   Tags: , , , , , , , , ,