Posts tagged "Chiulli"

Chiulli v. Liberty Mutual Insurance, Inc., et al. (Lawyers Weekly No. 11-032-15)

NOTICE:  All slip opinions and orders are subject to formal revision and are superseded by the advance sheets and bound volumes of the Official Reports.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   14-P-430                                        Appeals Court   ROBERT CHIULLI  vs.  LIBERTY MUTUAL INSURANCE, INC., & another.[1] No. 14-P-430. Suffolk.     October 1, 2014. – April 2, 2015.   Present:  Rapoza, C.J., Katzmann, & Wolohojian, JJ. “Anti-SLAPP” Statute.  Constitutional Law, Right to petition government.  Practice, Civil, Motion to dismiss, Interlocutory appeal.  Consumer Protection Act, Unfair or deceptive act, Insurance.  Insurance, Unfair act or practice.  Statute, Construction.       Civil action commenced in the Superior Court Department on March 18, 2013.   A special motion to dismiss was heard by Frances A. McIntyre, J.     Myles W. McDonough for the defendant. Andrew M. Abraham (Thomas C. Thorpe with him) for the plaintiff.      KATZMANN, J.  The defendant, Liberty Mutual Insurance, Inc. (Liberty), appeals from the denial by a Superior Court judge of a special motion to dismiss pursuant to G. L. c. 231, § 59H, the anti-SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) statute, enacted to protect the constitutional rights of ordinary citizens to petition the government to redress their grievances.[2]  The plaintiff, Robert Chiulli, having secured a large jury verdict against Liberty’s insured, filed the instant lawsuit alleging that the defendant had violated G. L. c. 93A and G. L. c. 176D by engaging in unfair and deceptive settlement practices, chiefly by refusing to provide Chiulli with a reasonable settlement offer once the insured’s liability became reasonably clear.  Liberty argues that its pursuit of a jury trial on behalf of its insured is protected petitioning activity such that Chiulli’s complaint should be dismissed as “a retaliatory and punitive attack upon Liberty’s petitioning conduct.”  Liberty urges that its actions are protected by petitioning immunity where “genuine issues of material fact existed in the underlying action against the insured.”  Finally, it argues that application of c. 93A and c. 176D against it is an unconstitutional infringement of its State and Federal rights to a jury trial.  It contends that c. 176D’s requirement that an insurer make a reasonable offer of settlement when liability is reasonably clear is the equivalent of a requirement that it forgo a jury trial and settle a tort action when there are disputes about its insured’s liability.  We conclude that Liberty is not entitled here to the protections of the anti-SLAPP statute and that Liberty’s deployment of that statute would eviscerate the consumer protections embodied in c. 176D.  We thus affirm the denial of its special motion […]

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Posted by Massachusetts Legal Resources - April 2, 2015 at 5:39 pm

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