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Businesses alleging financial loss against insurer lose before 7th Circuit

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The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against a group of businesses that sued an insurance company claiming its failure to adequately pay G&S Metal Consultants Inc. following an explosion at the GSMC Georgia plant led to the plaintiffs suffering financial losses.

G&S Metal Trading, G&S Holdings, Aluminum Sizing, and owner operators of G&S Metal Consultants R. Scott Galley II and Cynthia Galley sued Continental Casualty Co., the insurer of GSMC. Pursuant to its policy, Continental made some payouts to GSMC after the explosion, but GSMC claimed those payments were inadequate. It since has filed for bankruptcy, which has affected the businesses of the parties in this case. G&S Metal Trading, G&S Holdings and Aluminum Sizing are affiliated with GSMC and are additional named insureds under the policy that covered the Georgia plant.

The lawsuit filed in South Bend alleges seven counts against Continental: breach of contract, promissory estoppel, bad faith claims handling, negligent claims handling, tortious interference with contract, negligent infliction of emotional distress and breach of fiduciary duties. The crux of the complaint was that as a result of the failure to receive timely and adequate payments, GSMC experienced financial difficulties and the plaintiffs were adversely affected by the ensuing loss of business with GSMC.

U.S. District Judge Jon DeGuilio dismissed the lawsuit for failure to state a claim or that the plaintiffs lacked standing. The 7th Circuit found the plaintiffs couldn’t succeed on their claim that the wrong standard was applied to the motion to dismiss. The federal pleading standard as set forth in Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007), and Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009), applies.

In G&S Holdings LLC, et al. v. Continental Casualty Company, 11-1813, the federal appellate court affirmed DeGuilio’s dismissal of the breach of contract, promissory estoppel, bad faith claims handling, negligent claims handling, and breach of fiduciary duties claims pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1). DeGuilio ruled that the plaintiffs weren’t the real parties in interest because they did not seek recovery for an injury they suffered directly. The 7th Circuit also upheld DeGuilio’s rejection of the plaintiffs’ contention that they had standing as third-party beneficiaries of the policy.

The Circuit Court also found that Vectren Energy Marketing & Service Inc. v. Executive Risk Specialty Ins. Co., 875 N.E.2d 774 (Ind. App. 2007), applies.

“Even though the loss was a predictable result of the failure to fulfill the obligations of the policy, due to the interdependent relationship between the plaintiffs and GSMC, the claim against the insurer must be brought by the party to whom the duty is owed, which was GSMC,” Judge Ilana Diamond Rovner wrote.

 

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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