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Insurance Fraud Act Suits by Insurers Held to Trigger Right to Jury Trials in New Jersey

Last week, the New Jersey Supreme Court unanimously held that a civil defendant sued by an insurance company for violations of the state’s Insurance Fraud Prevention Act (IFPA) has the right to trial by jury.  In Allstate New Jersey Ins. Co. v. Lajara, 2015 WL  4276162, 2015 N.J. LEXIS 797 (Jul. 16, 2015), the six justices decided that a statutory IFPA claim triggers the jury trial right because it seeks compensatory and punitive damages and is legal in nature as a result and because the elements necessary to prove such a claim are similar to common-law fraud. In December, 2008 Allstate and four affiliated companies brought suit against 63 defendants, alleging the violations of IFPA.  Those sued included physicians, chiropractors,

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Posted in Fraud and False Swearing, Regulation, U.S. Legal System

Website Names the Top Ten Most Ridiculous Lawsuits of 2014

December saw two posts about the depressing demise of TRIA, so we thought we’d end the year on a considerably lighter note.  FacesOfLawsuitAbuse.org is a U.S. Chamber of Commerce project that addresses this country’s litigation explosion, and it publishes a list of the ten most ridiculous lawsuits at the end of every year.  While none of this year’s finalists involve insurance coverage per se, we thought that we still would share them with our readership.  Some of last year’s – such as the man who sued Apple because he allegedly became addicted to pornography after “accidently” visiting an adult website on an Apple device or the criminal who sued eight brewers for not warning him that alcohol, which supposedly led

Posted in U.S. Legal System

Waiver of Attorney-Client and Work-Product – You Can’t Be Just a Little Bit Pregnant

A recent Mississippi opinion dramatically underscores the dangers of an advice-of-counsel defense.  In Willis v. Allstate Ins. Co., — F.Supp.2d —, 2014 WL 1882387 (S.D.Miss., May 12, 2014), the court held that the insurer had waived both the attorney-client privilege and the work-product doctrine with respect to coverage counsel’s entire file – and not just that portion of it that the carrier was willing to produce – when its representatives testified that they relied on the attorney’s advice to deny liability.  As the saying goes, in for a penny, in for a pound. The policyholder Sandra Willis’ home was damaged by a fire on June 14, 2012, and she made a claim under her homeowner’s policy with Allstate Insurance Company. 

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Posted in Fire, Privilege, U.S. Legal System, Waiver

Third Circuit Says No to Insured’s Request for Reserve Information

In a victory for insurers, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit recently rejected an insured’s discovery request for reserve information in a first-party bad faith action.  In its April 29, 2014 decision in Mirarchi v. Seneca Speciality Insurance Company, — Fed.Appx. —, 2014 WL 1673748 (3d Cir., April 29, 2014), the Court of Appeals upheld the district court’s denial of the policyholder’s request for the reserves and, in doing so, endorsed  the numerous district court decisions that have previously held such information to be non-discoverable. In Mirarchi, a fire damaged the insured’s property.  The insurer paid the entire undisputed amount, and the parties proceed to appraisal on the remainder of the claim.  An umpire entered an award close

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Posted in Discovery, Reserves, U.S. Legal System

Federal Courts In New York and New Jersey Explore Streamlining Superstorm Sandy Discovery

Despite opposition by both many attorneys and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (“FEMA”), the federal court for the Eastern District of New York has now taken the first steps towards grouping some of the hundreds of pending Superstorm Sandy cases and expediting discovery in all of the them, and the District of New Jersey appears very likely to follow suit. Superstorm Sandy is now officially the second most costly storm in United States history, having caused over $50 billion in damages, and one of the most heavily-impacted jurisdictions was the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York.  The Eastern District comprises Staten Island and all of Long Island, including the New York City boroughs of Brooklyn

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Posted in Catastrophes, Superstorm Sandy, U.S. Legal System
About The Property Insurance Law Observer
For more than four decades, Cozen O’Connor has represented all types of property insurers in jurisdictions throughout the United States, and it is dedicated to keeping its clients abreast of developments that impact the insurance industry. The Property Insurance Law Observer will survey court decisions, enacted or proposed legislation, and regulatory activities from all 50 states. We will also include commentary on current issues and developing trends of interest to first-party insurers.
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