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CRW Obtains Court of Appeal Opinion Affirming Judgment in Favor of Property Insurer

Posted by on Aug 17, 2016 in news, news_older | 0 comments

Howard Wollitz secured an opinion from the California Court of Appeal, Second District, Division 5, filed December 5, 2012, affirming a judgment in favor of Gemini Insurance Company, as property insurer for a landlord, against the insurer for the tenant holding that liability for fire damage to the leased property could not be avoided by assertion of the insured v. insured exclusion in the tenant’s policy. The tenant’s insurer argued that the landlord’s status as Additional Insured under the tenant’s policy triggered the exclusion to bar coverage for a judgment in favor of Gemini in a subrogation action against the tenant. After oral argument by Mr. Wollitz, the Court of Appeal issued its opinion for publication rejecting the argument of the tenant’s insurer, and holding that Gemini’s insured was an Additional Insured under the tenant’s policy only where it faced liability arising from the tenant’s acts. Here, no third party ever sought to hold the landlord liable for damages from the fire.

 

Gemini Insurance Company v. Delos Insurance Company, 211 Cal. App. 4th 719 (2012)

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Jury Trial Victory Defeats Claim Linking Autism with Pesticide

Posted by on Aug 17, 2016 in news, news_older | 0 comments

The Firm recently won a landmark jury trial involving pesticides and autism. The plaintiff, a 13 year old boy, through his mother as guardian ad litem, claimed “brain damage” from his mother’s alleged inhalation exposure to an organophosphate pesticide (Dursban) while pregnant. Plaintiff asked the jury to award $20 million in damages. Over two years before the pregnancy, our client, Andy’s Termite & Pest Control, had applied the Dursban in the family’s basement soil to control subterranean termites. The trial lasted 3-months, but the jury took only 4 days to render a defense verdict in favor of our client on all 14 theories of liability.

 

Five years earlier, the Firm got the same case dismissed without a trial, when another judge ruled that plaintiff’s expert testimony based on rat experiments was inadmissible “junk science” that could not possibly show a causal link between autism and the alleged exposure. However, the Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the jury, not a judge, should decide what weight to give to animal studies. See Roberti v. Andy’s Termite & Pest Control (2003) 113 Cal.App.4th 893.  That appellate decision, and this jury trial, have been closely watched by the legal community, as pesticides and autism remain subjects of great public interest.

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Jury Trial Victory In Rescission/Bad Faith Suit

Posted by on Aug 17, 2016 in news, news_older | 0 comments

Jeffrey Charlston and Bruce Smyth secured a significant victory for firm clients United States Fidelity & Guaranty Company (“USF&G”) and American Specialty Insurance & Risk Services (“American Specialty”) after a month long jury trial in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California.

 

In United States Fidelity & Guaranty Company v. Lee Investments, LLC, the firm prosecuted a declaratory relief action for rescission of an insurance policy issued by USF&G to a Fresno water park, and defended bad faith and related claims brought by the entity owning the water park, and its broker, Aon. The jury entered unanimous verdicts in favor of USF&G on all of its affirmative claims, and unanimous verdicts against the water park and Aon on all of their claims against USF&G and American Specialty.

 

Based on the jury findings, the trial court has ordered restitution in favor of USF&G in excess of $1,000,000. The Judgment was affirmed by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in 2011 and a petition for writ of certiorari was denied by the United States Supreme Court.

 

United States Fidelity & Guaranty Company v. Lee Investments, LLC, 641 F.3d 1126 ( 9th Cir ), cert. denied, 132 S. Ct. 577 (2011).

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Trial Victory in Equitable Contribution Claim Among Insurers

Posted by on Aug 17, 2016 in news, news_older | 0 comments

Please click here to download the opinion (PDF).

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Arbitration Award for Insurer Against Managing General Agent for Breach of Agency Agreement

Posted by on Aug 17, 2016 in news, news_latest | 0 comments

Bruce Smyth secured an award for client Great Divide Insurance Company in an arbitration against Monarch Management Corporation, a managing general agent for Great Divide under an agency agreement. Great Divide demanded arbitration because of the omission of an abuse and molestation exclusion in breach of the underwriting guidelines under which Monarch was authorized to issue policies in Great Divide’s name. After a policy was issued without the exclusion, Great Divide was forced to defend an insured in a sexual molestation case and ultimately settled the matter just before trial. After a four-day arbitration before a panel headed by a retired Judge of the California Court of Appeals, and the testimony of ten witnesses and three experts, Great Divide was awarded all of the costs of defense and settlement, plus prejudgment interest, totaling over $450,000.

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Complex Two-Week Bad Faith Bench Trial

Posted by on Aug 17, 2016 in news, news_latest | 0 comments

Alan Lazar just completed a two week bench trial defending an unusually complex bad faith action based on denial of coverage in a legal malpractice action. The legal malpractice action arose from the insured law firm’s defense of a rental car company in an underlying action involving multiple deaths and quadriplegics. Thus the recent bad faith trial involved the merits of three cases rolled into one, “a case within a case within a case”.

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