Category Archives: Subrogation

Fire

Careless Smoking Causation Defense Goes Up in Smoke in Connecticut


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In Conn. Interlocal Risk Mgmt. Agency v. Jackson, 2019 Conn. LEXIS 230 (Sept. 1, 2019) (Conn. Interlocal), the Supreme Court of Connecticut considered a careless smoking case and whether, as a matter of first impression, Connecticut should adopt the alternative liability doctrine first set forth in Summers v. Tice, 199 P.2d 1 (Cal. 1948). Recognizing that the doctrine is a sound one, the court adopted it for cases proceeding in Connecticut. Continue reading

This entry was posted in Connecticut, Negligence, Subrogation and tagged , , , .
Gavel

Amazon Loses – It Is a Seller Under Wisconsin’s Products Liability Law


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As most subrogation professionals know, Amazon has been fighting products liability claims across the country for some time now. While it has been largely successful in doing so in the past, in a recent decision, Wisconsin sided with the plaintiff. In the case of State Farm Fire & Cas. Co. v. Amazon.com, Inc., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 122316, 2019 WL 3304887, the United States District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin denied the motion for summary judgment filed by defendant Amazon.com, Inc. (Amazon). The court held that Amazon was so deeply involved with the transaction at issue that it was an entity that could be held strictly liable under Wisconsin law. It also held that 47 U.S.C. § 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA) did not immunize Amazon because its liability was not based on posting content from a third party. Continue reading

This entry was posted in Products Liability, Subrogation, Wisconsin and tagged , , .
Figures

Ohio Court Measures the Damage to a Computer Network by Its Value to the Owner, Not Its Fair Market Value


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In Westfield Insurance Group v. Silco Fire & Security, 2019 Ohio App. LEXIS 2810, the Court of Appeals of Ohio, Fifth Appellate District addressed whether the trial court properly instructed the jury that the applicable measure of damages for damage done to a computer network was the network’s replacement cost value rather than its fair market value. Based on the unique circumstances of the case, the Court of Appeals held that the trial court did not abuse its discretion when it instructed the jury on the replacement cost measure of damages rather than fair market value. Continue reading

This entry was posted in Contracts, Damages - Real Property, Ohio, Subrogation and tagged , , .
Broken Bricks

Wisconsin Supreme Court Holds that Subrogation Waiver Does Not Violate Statute Prohibiting Limitation on Tort Liability in Construction Contracts


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In Rural Mut. Ins. Co. v. Lester Bldgs., LLC 2019 WI 70, 2019 Wisc. LEXIS 272, the Supreme Court of Wisconsin considered whether a subrogation waiver clause in a construction contract between the defendant and the plaintiff’s insured violated Wisconsin statute § 895.447, which prohibits limitations of tort liability in construction contracts. The Supreme Court affirmed the lower court’s decision that the waiver clause did not violate the statute because it merely shifted the responsibility for the payment of damages to the defendant’s insurance company. The waiver clause did not limit or eliminate the defendant’s tort liability. This case establishes that while
§ 895.447 prohibits construction contracts from limiting tort liability, a subrogation waiver clause that merely shifts responsibility for the payment of damages from a tortfeasor to an insurer does not violate the statute and, thus, is enforceable. Continue reading

This entry was posted in Construction Defects, Subrogation, Waiver of Subrogation, Wisconsin and tagged , , , , .
Large Property Loss

Texas Walks the Line on When the Duty to Preserve Evidence at a Fire Scene Arises


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The extent to which a loss scene can be altered before adversaries can legitimately cry spoliation has long been a mysterious battleground in the world of subrogation. In the case of In re Xterra Constr., LLC, No. 10-16-00420-CV, 2019 Tex. App. LEXIS 3927 (Tex. App. – Waco, May 15, 2019), the Court of Appeals of Texas, Tenth District, addressed the question of when a party has a duty to preserve evidence. The court found that the trial court abused its discretion in imposing sanctions on the defendants for the spoliation of evidence as the evidence at issue was already gone by the time the defendants knew or reasonably should have known there was a substantial chance a claim would be filed against them. Continue reading

This entry was posted in Evidence, Spoliation, Subrogation, Texas and tagged , , .
Gavel

New York Court Holds That the “Lesser of Two” Doctrine Limits Recoverable Damages in Subrogation Actions


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In New York Cent. Mut. Ins. Co. v. TopBuild Home Servs., Inc., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 69634 (April 24, 2019), the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York recently held that the “lesser of two” doctrine applies to subrogation actions, thereby limiting property damages to the lesser of repair costs or the property’s diminution in value. Continue reading

This entry was posted in Damages, Damages - Real Property, New York, Subrogation and tagged , , .
Fire

Property Owner’s Defense Goes Up in Smoke in Careless Smoking Case


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Property owners owe a duty of reasonable care to avoid causing harm to neighboring properties. When a property owner knows or should know about a condition that poses a risk of danger to neighboring properties, the property owner must exercise reasonable care to make the condition safe. The Court of Special Appeals of Maryland recently held that, where hundreds of discarded cigarette butts had accumulated in a bed of mulch over an extended period of time prior to the fire at issue, the owner of the property with the mulch beds owed a duty of care to its neighbors to prevent a foreseeable fire. Continue reading

This entry was posted in Experts, Maryland, Negligence, Premises Liability, Subrogation and tagged , , , , .
Meeting Handshake

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 , , , .
Product Fire

When an Insurer Proceeds as Subrogee, Defendants Cannot Assert Contribution Claims Against the Insured


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In Farmers Mut. Ins. Co. of Mason County v. Stove Builder Int’l, 2019 U.S. Dist. Lexis 46993 (E.D. Ky.), the United States District Court for the Northern Division of the Eastern District of Kentucky, by adopting a Magistrate Judge’s report and recommendations, see Farmers Mut. Ins. Co. v. Stove Builder, Int’l, Inc., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 48103 (E.D. Ky. Feb. 11, 2019), considered whether to allow the defendants to file a third-party complaint against the plaintiff’s insureds-subrogors. Finding that the defendants could not pursue contribution claims against the plaintiff’s insureds-subrogors, the court denied the defendant’s motion to file a third-party complaint. Continue reading

This entry was posted in Contribution-Apportionment, Kentucky, Subrogation and tagged , , , .
Gavel

California Court Invokes Equity to Stretch Anti-Subrogation Rule Principles


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By: Gus Sara and William L. Doerler

In Western Heritage Ins. Co. v. Frances Todd, Inc. 2019 Cal. App. Lexis 299, the Court of Appeals of California, First Appellate District, addressed whether a commercial condominium association’s carrier could subrogate against the tenants (aka lessees) of one of its member unit owners. After examining the condominium association’s declarations, as well as the lease terms between the owner and the lessees, the court held that the association’s carrier could not subrogate against the lessees because they were implied co-insureds on the policy. To reach its decision, the court explained that an insurer steps into the shoes of its insured, not the party with whom it is in privity. Although the first-party property portion of the association’s insurance policy did not, as required by the association’s declarations, have the owner listed as an additional named insured, the court held that it would be inequitable to treat the association as the sole insured for purposes of determining Western Heritage’s right to bring a subrogation action. Continue reading

This entry was posted in Anti-Subrogation Rule, California, Landlord-Tenant, Subrogation, Sutton Doctrine and tagged , , .