Articles Posted in General Insurance Dispute Information

abstract_accountant_architecture_1238932-scaledSufficient evidence is required to prevail in any lawsuit. Generally, each side obtains additional evidence through the discovery process. However, what happens if a court grants a summary judgment motion for one party before the other party has time to complete adequate discovery? The following case helps answer this question.

Shannon James Suarez supposedly threw a Twinkie box at Jerry W. Peloquin II. Peloquin claimed Suarez had previously been stalking him for months and battered him. Lori Smith also claimed Suarez had stalked her. Suarez was subsequently arrested and charged with stalking under La. R.S. 14:40.2(A)

The investigator, Bill Pousson, went to Suarez’s workplace to talk to him about the charges. Suarez claims Pousson spoke to him, told him he could make his problems disappear, and encouraged him to plead guilty, even though he knew Suarez had an attorney. Suarez then filed a lawsuit against Pousson and John DeRosier, the district attorney (the “Defendants”), claiming malicious prosecution and misconduct related to the District Attorney’s Office’s investigation. 

crash_test_collision_60_1-scaledOne of the joys of adulthood is figuring out insurance coverage for your vehicles. Selecting the right coverage can be incredibly challenging when you own a small business because there are unclear lines between personal and company vehicles. This can be especially challenging if an accident occurs when driving a different vehicle than you usually drive. Can your insurance policy cover you when driving a different vehicle because your regular vehicle is out of commission and needs repairs? The subsequent lawsuit helps answer this question.

Gerald Arceneaux owned Gerald’s Towing. Axis Plus Insurance sold him an insurance policy for the garage that included uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. On the first day, the policy was in effect, Arceneaux got in a car accident in his Ford F250 while driving home from work. He claimed he was “on call” when the accident occurred, and his truck included tools and equipment sufficient to respond to service requests made to his towing company. He said he drove the Ford F250 when the accident occurred because the Ford F450 that Gerald’s Towing owned needed to be repaired. 

Axis filed a summary judgment motion, arguing the insurance policy did not provide uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage to Arceneaux for the claim under La. R.S.22:1295. Axis argued they didn’t cover the accident because it was Arcenaux’s personal vehicle, and he was not on call for Gerald’s Towing. The trial court granted Axis’s summary judgment motion. Arceneaux appealed. 

biker_motorcycle_stunt_man_0-scaledEven if you have a unique job like a stunt performer, you can still get brought down to Earth by the complexities of determining what your insurance policies do and do not cover if you are involved in an insurance coverage dispute. In that case, it is important to understand the plain language of your insurance contract, how different provisions in the policy interact, and how courts interpret insurance policies. 

Joshua Petrozziello worked as a professional stunt performer at Flypaper Productions. He was injured when a piece of equipment malfunctioned while performing a stunt as part of a movie product. As a result, he filed a lawsuit against Noway, Inc., who had manufactured and operated the equipment, and Employers Fire Insurance Company, who issued Flypaper’s primary and excess general liability policies. 

The parties settled all claims except Petrozziellos’ lawsuit against the excess liability policy from Employers Fire Insurance Company. That insurance policy had an exclusion for injuries sustained by an “employee of any insured” during and during employment. The Petrozziellos argued that this employee-injury exclusion had to be interpreted harmoniously with the “Separation of Insureds” policy provision. They claimed because Petrozziollo was not an employee of Noway, the exclusion did not apply. The trial court agreed with this argument and granted summary judgment in their favor. 

georgia_state_coat_arms-scaledWhen a loved one dies in a car accident, dealing with insurance is likely the last thing on your mind. Unfortunately, insurance policies can be complicated, with many details and exceptions. If you do not fully understand your insurance coverage, you might find yourself in a difficult situation when seeking compensation from your insurance company. This is especially important when your vehicles and insurance policies cover multiple states. 

Cesar Medina was involved in a car accident in Lafayette Parish, Louisiana, that unfortunately resulted in his death. His wife filed a lawsuit against the driver of the other car, its insurer, and Medina’s insurer. The car Medina was driving at the time of the accident was owned by someone who lived in Georgia. 

Medina’s insurer filed a summary judgment motion, arguing Medina’s insurance policy did not cover uninsured/underinsured motorists as of the date of the accident. In addition, the insurer argued the car had a Georgia insurance policy, and the vehicle’s owner had signed a waiver rejecting uninsured motorist coverage. The insurer provided the waiver as evidence. Medina’s wife did not oppose the motion. The trial court found Georgia law governed and granted Medina’s insurer’s summary judgment motion and denied Medina’s wife’s request for a new trial. Medina’s wife then appealed. 

valves_sprinkler_water_pipe-scaledMardi Gras, a time of joyous celebration, took an unexpected turn for a store near a French Quarter hotel when a sprinkler head malfunctioned, resulting in significant water damage. Despite the storeowner’s insurance covering the damages, a lawsuit ensued to determine the hotel’s liability for the losses incurred. This case highlights the complexities of determining responsibility and legal remedies in property damage cases, emphasizing the importance of seeking legal counsel to navigate such situations effectively.

Hotel Management of New Orleans (“HMNO”) owned and operated the French Market Inn. A sprinkler head located in the hotel was triggered during Mardi Gras, which caused a water leak and flooding in the store two floors below. The storeowner claimed water leaked into its store for approximately two hours. During that time, HMNO did not try to turn off the sprinkler but instead waited for the fire department to turn off the sprinkler. This caused damage to the store.

State Farm insured the storeowner and paid the storeowner approximately $41k under its policy. State Farm then filed a lawsuit against HMNO and its insurer, Companion Property, and Casualty Insurance Company, seeking repayment of the $41k it paid to the storeowner under its policy. The trial court found in favor of State Farm and ordered HMNO and Companion to pay the stipulated damages of $41k. HMNO and Companion appealed, arguing that the trial court erred in finding that HMNO knew or should have known the sprinkler was defective, HMNO employees were negligent, and denying HMNO’s motion for involuntary dismissal. 

justice_scales_balance_lawyer-scaledLosing a lawsuit can lead to frustration with your attorney, and you might contemplate pursuing a legal malpractice claim against them. However, it is crucial to comprehend the essential elements required to succeed in such a claim; otherwise, your case may face dismissal. The Klein v. Wynne lawsuit examines the importance of meeting all the requirements to prevail in a legal malpractice lawsuit and highlights the potential consequences of failing to do so.

Leverette Klein hired lawyer Vincent Wynne Jr., who worked for Wynne, Goux & Lobello, to provide legal advice and services related to a foreclosure in St. Tammany Parish. Klein claimed he had an assignment of a mortgage note and money judgment recognized a mortgage for a property in Lacombe, Louisiana. Klein said he wanted Sandra Parnell, his ex-girlfriend, removed from the house. Klein told Wynne that Parnell had some of his movable property that she would not return. Wynne resolved the issue and tried to contact Klein to see if he wanted to pursue the foreclosure. Klein claimed that Wynne did not contact him, whereas Wynne claimed Klein was unresponsive. 

Klein fired Wynne as his attorney and hired another attorney. He then learned he would be unable to recover for the mortgage on the property because it was not timely revived under the ten-year period under La. C.C. art. 3501. Leverette Klein brought a legal malpractice against Vincent Wynne Jr., the law firm Wynne, Goux & Lobello, and their insurer, Greenwich Insurance Company. Klein claimed that because of Wynne or his law firm’s failure, he could not foreclose his property and sustained damages. The trial court found that the assignment of the mortgage note was unenforceable when Klein had hired Wynne, so Klein had not proved he had suffered any damages. The trial court dismissed Klein’s legal malpractice claims. Klein appealed the trial court’s judgment.

firefighter_cars_accident_hood-scaledNobody likes insurance policies or divorce. Both can be extremely messy and full of legal jargon. Megan Daigle experienced this firsthand as her divorced parents’ insurance did not cover everything they hoped for. 

In the fall of 2013, Megan Daigle was driving in Morgan City, Louisiana, when she did not stop at a stop sign. This failure to stop resulted in her vehicle, a car her father owns and provides to Megan for her sole use, colliding with a car driven by Monty Rivers. At the time of the accident, Megan was a minor. Megan’s mother had legal custody as her parents were divorced. Megan was insured under an Allstate policy held by her mother and stepfather.  Mr. Rivers was injured in the accident and filed lawsuits against Megan, her father, her mother, and all connected insurance companies. 

Allstate filed a motion for summary judgment and a partial summary judgment, arguing the policy did not provide coverage because a policyholder did not own Megan’s vehicle, and it was available for Megan’s regular use. The lower court granted this judgment. Rivers appealed the granting of Allstate’s motion arguing that Allstate waived their right to assert a coverage defense and that the allegations found in the pleadings were sufficient to put Allstate on notice of the potential coverage defense. Rivers’ argument was based on the understanding that upon receipt of the pleadings, Allstate had sufficient notice of the facts, which indicated the policy held by Megan’s mother did not provide coverage for Megan.

medical_consultation_treatment_room-scaledCourts often rely on motions for summary judgments to avoid the costly and time-consuming reality of going to trial and presenting a case in front of a jury. Motions for summary judgment are when one party asks the court to decide the case based on the current facts alleged in their favor. Courts should grant these motions when there are no facts in dispute for the jury to resolve. But how much evidence does a party have to present to survive one of these motions? A case out of New Orleans shows that, in some cases, just having medical records could be enough to deny a motion for summary judgment. 

Emmanuel Bridgewater was lounging on a median at the intersection of Washington Avenue and South Dorgenois Street when a Regional Transit Authority (RTA) bus made a left-hand turn off of Toledano street and an immediate right turn onto Washington Avenue. The bus cut the corner too closely and drove onto the median, hitting Bridgewater. As a result of the accident, Bridgewater’s right arm broke, his right leg was injured, and he said that the accident left him permanently disabled. Bridgewater alleged that the bus did not stop after he was hit and instead fled the scene. A bystander who did not witness the accident heard Bridgewater calling for help and called 911 emergency services. An ambulance and New Orleans Police Officer Roger Smith arrived at the scene. Bridgewater alleged that Smith did not question him about the accident before he was taken to the hospital.

Bridgewater filed a lawsuit against the RTA and the City of New Orleans and added the Transit Management of Southeast Louisiana, Inc. (TMSL) as a defendant. Bridgewater accused the defendants of being jointly liable for his injuries and argued that the NOPD officer assigned to the RTA acted to protect the RTA from liability. Bridgewater also asserted that the City was at fault because it failed to place signs in the accident area to warn pedestrians that buses may run onto the median and hit them. The City filed for summary judgment, and the court granted the City’s motion. Next, Bridgewater filed a motion for rehearing, contesting the court’s decision. Then, RTA also filed a motion for summary judgment, and the judge denied Bridgewater’s rehearing and granted RTA’s motion. Bridgewater eventually appealed, and RTA responded, seeking attorney fees and costs against Bridgewater for filing a frivolous claim, which means that the lawsuit lacked any basis. 

hammer_court_judge_justice-scaledCourt cases are contentious, polarizing atmospheres between the parties. Stubbornness is ripe, and the opposing parties are staunchly in, unsurprisingly, opposition. However, sometimes even opposing parties can agree. Any party can take issue with a court’s judgment, and sometimes ALL parties can take issue with a court’s decision–even if these issues are different. But when multiple parties raise various errors in a trial court judgment, how can the higher courts resolve such allegations of error?

 In 2001, a workplace incident occurred between the plaintiff, Bradley W. Smith, and the defendant, then-coworker Paul Babin. Smith alleged that while the two parties were in the parking lot at their workplace, Babin intentionally hit Smith with his vehicle. In his 2002 lawsuit, Smith claimed that Babin was liable for Smith’s damages and later amended the lawsuit to include Shelter Mutual Insurance Company (Shelter) as Babin’s liability insurer. 

In late 2014, a trial court heard Smith’s lawsuit on liability, causation, and damages and then heard Babin’s crossclaims. At the beginning of the trial, the parties entered a pretrial stipulation that determined Smith’s past medical expenses caused by Babin’s act totaled $338,556.27, for which both Shelter and Babin would get worker’s compensation credit. 

Automobile insurance claims are complex enough, as it is unlikely that all parties involved will immediately agree on a settlement amount. These claims become even more convoluted when there are questions as to what state law should apply or when the insured isn’t fully aware of what his policy entails. Unfortunately, this is precisely what happened when a man was involved in an accident in New Orleans. 

Jones was involved in a motor vehicle accident in Orleans Parish, and the other driver, insured by Allstate, was found to be at fault. Jones settled with Allstate and then attempted to recover under his own uninsured/underinsured motorist claim from GEICO. GEICO denied his claim stating that Jones was in direct violation of his Georgia-issued policy and statutory law when he failed to obtain GEICO’s approval before settling with and releasing Allstate. 

Jones then brought a claim against GEICO, where he, in part, filed a motion for summary judgment seeking a judicial determination that Louisiana law applied, not Georgia’s. The Civil District Court of Orleans Parish granted Jones’ partial summary judgment claim and found that Louisiana law applied. GEICO then appealed the Trial Court’s ruling to the Louisiana Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal, where the issue focused on whether the Trial Court correctly granted Jones’ motion for partial summary judgment. 

Contact Information