Category Archives: Parties

Signing Agreement

Missouri Protects Subrogation Rights

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The point at which an insurance carrier possesses the equitable right of subrogation is an issue on which the states have differed. Some allow carriers to pursue rights of subrogation immediately upon payment and some have taken stricter approaches. Missouri falls into the latter group. By not allowing the carrier the right to file suit against third-party tortfeasors until the insured provides its carrier with an assignment of all its rights, Missouri’s approach has opened the door for challenges to subrogation rights.

In Megown v. Auto Club Fam. Ins. Co., 2024 Mo. App. LEXIS 82, the plaintiff-insureds Michael and Jane Megown (the Megowns) suffered a house fire on February 8, 2016. Their insurance carrier, Auto Club Family Insurance Company (Auto Club) reimbursed the Megowns for their property damage in the amount of $722,433.56. Subsequently, the Megowns sued Auto Club for breach of contract and later amended their complaint to add claims against Tyberius Enterprises, LLC d/b/a Crag Electric (Craig Electric), the third-party tortfeasor, for direct negligence, alleging both property damage and personal injuries. Auto Club intervened in the Megowns’ claim against Craig Electric to protect its interest as subrogee for its property damage payment to the Megowns. Craig Electric settled prior to trial, paying $1,000,000.00 to both the Megowns and Auto Club, to be allocated at a later date. After a bench trial that apportioned the settlement with $722,433.56 paid to Auto Club and $277,566.44 paid to Megowns – and a jury trial awarding no further damages – the Megowns appealed.

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This entry was posted in Assignment, Missouri, Parties, Public Policy, Subrogation and tagged , , .

When an Insurer Proceeds as Subrogee, Defendants Should Not Assert Counterclaims Against the Insured/Subrogor

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In a subrogation action, one party is substituted to the rights and remedies of another with respect to a lawful claim. The substituted party (the subrogee) is legally able to pursue any right or seek any remedy that would be available to the subrogor regarding that claim. But can a defendant in a subrogation action assert any claim against the subrogee that it would have against the subrogor? In Federated Mut. Inc. Co. v. Kosciusko County, No. 3:20-CV-960, 2021 U.S. Dist. Lexis 88735, the United States District Court for the Northern District of Indiana considered whether a defendant could assert counterclaims against the insureds/subrogors in an action filed in the name of their subrogee. The court held that since the insurerds/subrogors were not a party to the action and the defendant could assert the substance of its counterclaim as a defense, the defendant could not file counterclaims against the insureds/subrogors in the insurer’s subrogation action. Continue reading

This entry was posted in Indiana, Litigation, Parties, Subrogation and tagged , , , , .

What the Jury Doesn’t Know about Insurance Won’t Hurt Them

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The issue of whether a jury will be less inclined to award an insurance company plaintiff – versus an individual person or entity – a favorable verdict is a real one for subrogation professionals facing a potential trial. In states where the laws allow carriers to choose between filing in their own name or in the name of the insured, there are numerous factors attorneys must weigh before finalizing the caption. However, if a jury is allowed to know the extent of the carrier’s involvement, the notion of filing in the name of the insured becomes less appealing. Continue reading

This entry was posted in Evidence, Massachusetts, Parties, Subrogation and tagged , , , , .
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Insurers Subrogating in Arkansas Must Expend Energy to Prove That Their Insureds Have Been Made Whole

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Arkansas employs the “made whole” doctrine, which requires an insured to be fully compensated for damages (i.e., to be “made whole”) before the insurer is entitled to recover in subrogation.[1] As the Riley court established, an insurer cannot unilaterally determine that its insured has been made whole (in order to establish a right of subrogation). Rather, in Arkansas, an insurer must establish that the insured has been made whole in one of two ways. First, the insurer and insured can reach an agreement that the insured has been made whole. Second, if the insurer and insured disagree on the issue, the insurer can ask a court to make a legal determination that the insured has been made whole.[2] If an insured has been made whole, the insurer is the real party in interest and must file the subrogation action in its own name.[3] However, when both the insured and an insurer have claims against the same tortfeasor (i.e., when there are both uninsured damages and subrogation damages), the insured is the real party in interest.[4] Continue reading

This entry was posted in Arkansas, Made Whole, Parties, Subrogation and tagged , , , .

California Court of Appeals Holds Subrogating Carrier Cannot Assert Claims of Its Suspended Insured

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In Travelers Prop. Cas. Co. of Am. v. Engel Insulation, Inc., 29 Cal. App. 5th 830 (2018), the Third District Court of Appeals of California addressed whether a subrogating carrier can assert the rights of its corporate insured while the insured is suspended and thus barred from doing so itself. The court rejected the argument that Cal. Rev & Tax Code § 19719(b) (1998), which exempts subrogating carriers from the penalties for asserting the rights of a suspended corporation set forth in its own subsection (a), eliminated the prohibition against carriers bringing an action based on the subrogation rights of its suspended insured. Because Travelers’ claims were based solely on its derivative rights of subrogation and its corporate insured was suspended, the Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court’s ruling that Travelers had no right to bring its suit. The court’s holding reaffirms California case law that denies subrogating carriers any rights greater than those of their insureds. See Truck Ins. Exch. v. Superior Court, 60 Cal. App. 4th 342 (1997). Continue reading

This entry was posted in California, Parties, Subrogation and tagged .