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Boyle, et al. v. Zurich American Insurance Company (Lawyers Weekly No. 10-155-15)

NOTICE:  All slip opinions and orders are subject to formal revision and are superseded by the advance sheets and bound volumes of the Official Reports.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-11791   JOSEPH P. BOYLE & another[1]  vs.  ZURICH AMERICAN INSURANCE COMPANY. Middlesex.     April 6, 2015. – September 14, 2015.   Present:  Gants, C.J., Spina, Cordy, Botsford, Duffly, Lenk, & Hines, JJ.     Insurance, Insurer’s obligation to defend, Notice, Settlement of claim.  Notice, Insurance claim.  Consumer Protection Act, Insurance, Unfair or deceptive act.  Practice, Civil, Damages.       Civil action commenced in the Superior Court Department on June 27, 2011.   The case was heard by Kenneth W. Salinger, J.   The Supreme Judicial Court granted an application for direct appellate review.     John T. Harding (Rachel M. Davison with him) for the defendant. Michael K. Gillis (David R. Bikofsky & Joseph I. Rogers with him) for the plaintiff. The following submitted briefs for amici curiae: Laura Foggan, of the District of Columbia, & Rosanna Sattler for Complex Insurance Claims Litigation Association. Anthony R. Zelle & Robert J. Maselek, Jr., for Massachusetts Defense Lawyers Association. Charlotte E. Glinka, Thomas R. Murphy, & J. Michael Conley for Massachusetts Academy of Trial Attorneys.     LENK, J.  Joseph P. Boyle was injured by an exploding tire in an automobile repair shop operated by C&N Corporation (C&N).  Joseph[2] and his wife, Janice M. Boyle, filed a complaint against C&N, asserting claims for bodily injury and loss of consortium.  C&N held an insurance policy issued by Zurich American Insurance Company (Zurich).  The policy required that C&N provide notice to Zurich of any suit brought against it.  C&N informed Zurich about Joseph’s injury.  It did not notify Zurich about the lawsuit, but the Boyles’ counsel eventually did.  Zurich did not defend against the suit.  C&N defaulted, and judgment by default was entered for the Boyles. Subsequently, the Boyles brought suit against Zurich, asserting both their individual claims and the claims of C&N, which, in the interim, C&N had assigned to the Boyles.  In return for a negotiated sum of money, the Boyles released the claims that they had asserted on their own behalf; these individual claims arose from Zurich’s asserted failure to settle the Boyles’ personal injury action when liability had become reasonably clear.  After a jury-waived trial on C&N’s claims against Zurich, a Superior Court judge determined that Zurich had committed a breach of its contractual duty to defend C&N.  The judge declined to award the Boyles (as C&N’s assignees) multiple damages, […]

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Posted by Massachusetts Legal Resources - September 14, 2015 at 2:42 pm

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