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COA affirms judgment in coverage dispute between insurance companies

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The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed a trial court’s judgment regarding indemnification clauses and coverage under insurance policies. The issue came before the trial court after a worker sought compensation for severe injuries he sustained when he was electrocuted on the construction site of a Wal-Mart in Boone County.

Wal-Mart hired MacDougall Pierce Construction Inc. as the general contractor on the construction. K.B. Electric was a subcontractor on the site and it employed James Wethington. He was catastrophically injured while working at the project, alleging Wal-Mart and MacDougall were negligent by choosing to leave the power on while he worked in order to save time on completion of the building.

MacDougall had insurance through Amerisure; K.B. Electric had insurance through West Bend. Amerisure declined to participate in the defense efforts. The trial court granted MacDougall’s and Amerisure’s motions, finding West Bend had a duty to defend/indemnify Wal-Mart, MacDougall and K.B. Electric.

“We reject West Bend’s argument that the inclusion of language in Paragraph 4 and omission of that language in Paragraph 21 creates an ambiguity in the Subcontract such that West Bend is not primarily responsible for providing coverage for Wethington’s claims. What is clear from the wording of the Subcontract is that K.B. Electric was required to indemnify Wal-Mart and MacDougall, and that West Bend, as K.B. Electric’s insurer, was required to provide coverage if the loss was a covered loss,” Judge James Kirsch wrote in West Bend Mutual Insurance Company and K.B. Electric, LLC v. MacDougal Pierce Construction, Inc., Amerisure Insurance Company, et al., 06A01-1304-CT-162.  

The judges also disagreed with West Bend’s contention that the trial court’s decision on the indemnification issue was premature.

“The parties’ rights and liabilities to each other were outlined contractually by the terms of indemnification,” he wrote. “Once that determination was made, then the insurance coverage issues could be resolved. Thus, the trial court’s decision on indemnification was not premature, but in fact, necessary to prevent the hazards of circular litigation.

The subcontract K.B. Electric entered into with MacDougall explicitly referred to the prime contract MacDougall had with Wal-Mart and other documents, incorporating their terms into the subcontract. That K.B. Electric obtained umbrella coverage from West Bend further evinces the understanding that K.B. Electric was required to do just that, the court held.  
 

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  1. Paul Ogden doing a fine job of remembering his peer Gary Welsh with the post below and a call for an Indy gettogether to celebrate Gary .... http://www.ogdenonpolitics.com/2016/05/indiana-loses-citizen-journalist-giant.html Castaways of Indiana, unite!

  2. It's unfortunate that someone has attempted to hijack the comments to promote his own business. This is not an article discussing the means of preserving the record; no matter how it's accomplished, ethics and impartiality are paramount concerns. When a party to litigation contracts directly with a reporting firm, it creates, at the very least, the appearance of a conflict of interest. Court reporters, attorneys and judges are officers of the court and must abide by court rules as well as state and federal laws. Parties to litigation have no such ethical responsibilities. Would we accept insurance companies contracting with judges? This practice effectively shifts costs to the party who can least afford it while reducing costs for the party with the most resources. The success of our justice system depends on equal access for all, not just for those who have the deepest pockets.

  3. As a licensed court reporter in California, I have to say that I'm sure that at some point we will be replaced by speech recognition. However, from what I've seen of it so far, it's a lot farther away than three years. It doesn't sound like Mr. Hubbard has ever sat in a courtroom or a deposition room where testimony is being given. Not all procedures are the same, and often they become quite heated with the ends of question and beginning of answers overlapping. The human mind can discern the words to a certain extent in those cases, but I doubt very much that a computer can yet. There is also the issue of very heavy accents and mumbling. People speak very fast nowadays, and in order to do that, they generally slur everything together, they drop or swallow words like "the" and "and." Voice recognition might be able to produce some form of a transcript, but I'd be very surprised if it produces an accurate or verbatim transcript, as is required in the legal world.

  4. Really enjoyed the profile. Congratulations to Craig on living the dream, and kudos to the pros who got involved to help him realize the vision.

  5. Why in the world would someone need a person to correct a transcript when a realtime court reporter could provide them with a transcript (rough draft) immediately?

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