Archive for the ‘Duty to Indemnify’ Category

“Baled” Out – Woman Trips on Stairs at Farm; Indemnity Agreement in Release Contrary to Public Policy (CT)

September 2, 2015

Squinobal v. Zenko (Connecticut)

Plaintiff was injured when she slipped and fell on wooden stairs located on the defendant’s premises.  The defendant operated a farm and equestrian facility.  At the time of the incident, plaintiff was carrying a bale of hay and seed to a feed trailer.  Plaintiff filed a complaint alleging that her injuries resulted from the negligence and carelessness of the defendant.  The defendant filed a counterclaim based on a “Lesson, Horse Rental, and Arena Use Release” document (“Release”) signed by the plaintiff in order to ride horses at the facility.  The defendant then filed a motion for partial summary judgment on the ground that plaintiff had a duty to defend and indemnify the defendant under the terms of the Release. (more…)

Off Target – Hunting Club Insurance Doesn’t Cover Member Involved in Accidental Shooting (VA)

August 6, 2015

Marks v. Scottsdale Co. (Virginia)

This case involves a creative attempt by a tortfeasor to find insurance coverage.  The plaintiff Ray Marks, Jr. (“Marks) was a nonmember the defendant hunting club.  He had been injured when he was accidentally shot by a hunting club member (plaintiff Timothy B. Johnson [“Johnson”]) as the Marks was driving by the club’s property.  Both Marks and Johnson sued the club’s general liability insurer after the insurer denied insurance coverage to Johnson for the incident.  The insurer filed a motion for summary judgment contending that the club’s policy did not cover club members for their personal recreational activities, and the trial court granted the motion.  Plaintiffs appealed. (more…)

Don’t Believe the Type – No Liability Coverage for Event Production Company Despite Contrary Insurance Certificate (LA)

August 4, 2015

Daniels v. SMG Crystal, LLC (Louisiana)

This case revolves around the 2005 Essence Festival held at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans. An attendee of the event slipped and fell on an unknown substance at the Superdome, suffering personal injury.  She filed a lawsuit against government entities, the Superdome manager, the festival organizer, and a production company hired by the organizer to produce the festival.  The government entities and the Superdome manager filed cross-complaints against the festival organizer and the production company seeking defense and indemnity protection.  The organizer filed a cross complaint against the production company and its commercial general liability (“CGL”) insurer.  The insurer eventually filed a motion for summary judgment on the grounds that it did not owe a duty to defend or indemnify any of the parties under the CGL policy.  The District Court initially denied the motion, but later granted the insurer’s motion for a new trial and for summary judgment.  Appeals followed.  On appeal, the Court of Appeal of Louisiana vacated the District Court decision and remanded the matter.  On remand, the District Court granted the insurer’s motion for summary judgment against the injured attendee and the production company on the issue of insurance coverage, and it dismissed all the claims against the insurer.  The production company appealed again. (more…)

Deflated

October 1, 2012

Interstate Fire & Casualty v. Abernathy (Florida)
(A minor festival attendee was injured while using an inflatable bungee run; the mother of the minor sued the club that was hosting the event; after settling with the club for millions of dollars and obtaining a judgment, the mother then filed an action against the club’s insurer for failing to provide coverage and for engaging in bad faith; the court ruled that the coverage did not extend back four days to liability for the prior known injury.)

Interstate Fire & Casualty appealed a final judgment against it awarding the injured minor more than six million dollars.  The trial court had determined that a certificate of insurance that was issued by a broker on April 18, 2007 conferred coverage on a purported additional insured (the club hosting the festival) for liability for the minor’s injury that occurred four days earlier on April 14, 2007.

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Coverage Denied for Injury to Motorsports “Participant”

January 19, 2011

T.H.E. Insurance v. Cochran Motor Speedway (Georgia)
(Minor in the pit area of a racetrack deemed to be a participant; insurance coverage denied due to a participant exclusion.)

A stepfather and his minor daughter attended a racing event at the defendant’s racing facility.  The stepfather purchased pit passes for himself and the minor, and he signed a waiver and release from liability and indemnity agreement on their behalf.  The stepfather had some sort of affiliation with one of the racing team’s that happened to be crowned the winner of the local points championship on the evening in question.  The team decided to celebrate the championship by driving the racecar back onto the racetrack to the front straightaway.  The minor daughter was placed on top of the car and it began to drive onto the racetrack.  While it was moving, she fell from the car and was injured.  The minor daughter then filed a lawsuit against the racetrack, its owner, and the driver of the race car to recover for her personal injuries.  The racetrack submitted the claim to its insurance company, which denied coverage and filed a claim for declaratory relief.  Eventually, the plaintiff insurer filed a motion for summary judgment based upon exclusions in the policy, and the Court granted the motion. (more…)

Insurance Company “Cutz” Barbershop’s Defense

July 6, 2008

Scottsdale Insurance Company v. Cutz, LLC (Florida)
(Insurer Had No Duty to Defend Lessor of Premises in Negligent Security Lawsuit.)

In September 2003, two men were shot to death at a Cutz, LLC (Cutz) barbershop. Personal representatives of the deceased men brought suit against Cutz (the lessee) and G&G Laboratories (the lessor of the premises), seeking damages for wrongful death and negligence based upon a failure to provide security at the barbershop. Cutz was the named insured under an insurance policy issued by Scottsdale Insurance Company (Scottsdale). Both Cutz and G&G Laboratories (G&G) tendered their defense and requested indemnity from Scottsdale. Scottsdale sought a declaration from the Court that it was not responsible for G&G.

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Paying the Price (Twice)

November 7, 2007

Heilig v. Touchstone Climbing, Inc. (California–UNPUBLISHED)
(Rock Climber Falls During a Competition; Release Precludes Negligence Claims; No Allegations or Evidence of “Gross Negligence”; Defendant Entitled to Attorneys Fees Pursuant to Release)

The plaintiff was an experienced and professional rock climber. He was injured in a fall during a rock climbing competition at one of the defendant’s indoor “climbing gyms.” Plaintiff had climbed indoor climbing walls at some of defendant’s six facilities in the Bay Area during the several years preceding the incident. He had been intermittently a member of defendant’s facility, which entitled him to use any of its climbing facilities. Defendant had periodically required plaintiff to sign releases of liability in order to use their facilities.

Plaintiff had taken a few years off from competitive climbing, but had then joined the defendant at its Concord facility on February 4, 2004. At that time, he signed the most recent “Release of Liability and Assumption of Risk Agreement” (“Release”). The Release, in standard form language, specifies that the climber recognizes and assumes the significant risks of climbing, “both known and unknown, whether caused or alleged to be caused by the negligent acts or omission” of the defendant. Pursuant to the Release, plaintiff also agreed to release, discharge, and indemnify or hold harmless defendant from “any and all claims, demands, or causes of action, which are in any way connected with my participation in this activity” or use of defendant’s equipment or facilities, including any “claims which allege negligent acts or omissions” of defendant.

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A Bounce in Their Step

July 9, 2007

National Mutual Insurance v. Curtis (Indiana)
(Trampoline Accident Victim Sued Homeowners’ Insurer for Declaratory Relief; Insurer Cited Trampoline Exclusion, But court Found Exclusion to Be Ambiguous; Insurer Owed Duty)

The plaintiff was seriously injured while attending a graduation party at the home of the Curtises. During the party, he was injured while using a trampoline. The plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the Curtises for his injuries, and he later amended the complaint to add National Mutual Insurance Company as a defendant, seeking a declaration that the Curtises’ policy provided liability coverage for his injuries. National Mutual declined coverage, citing a trampoline exclusion found in a supplement attached to the main policy. The lower court granted the plaintiff’s summary judgment, determining that the policy provided coverage, and National Mutual appealed.

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