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COA allows insurance dispute to proceed

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The Indiana Court of Appeals found disputes of material fact in an insurance case in which the homeowners made misrepresentations in their application, ordering the trial court to take a closer look at whether the insurer rescinded the policy after discovering the misrepresentations.

In Michael Dodd and Katherine Dodd v. American Family Mutual Insurance Co., No. 12A02-1010-CT-1414, homeowners Michael and Katherine Dodd admit that they made material misrepresentations on their application for homeowner’s insurance with American Family Mutual Insurance Co. when only Michael applied for the insurance and left Katherine off of the policy. A previous fire had destroyed the home owned by Katherine that she and Michael lived in before they were married, resulting in that insurer declining to renew the policy after reimbursement. After they rebuilt, Michael was the only one listed on the application with American Family.

Michael and Katherine married in 2000, a couple years after the original fire. Three years later, the Dodds’ garage and its contents were destroyed by a fire. While investigating the Dodds’ claim, American Family learned about the fire that had destroyed the Dodds’ previous home. The insurer denied their claim, said they would not renew the policy, and did not return the Dodds’ premiums until after final judgment was entered in January 2011 in American Family’s favor on the Dodds’ suit for breach of contract and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

The Court of Appeals found Michael’s misrepresentations made the insurance policy voidable at American Family’s option, but not void from the outset, in part based on how the policy is written. The Dodds argued that American Family failed to effectively exercise its option to void the policy because it didn’t return the Dodds’ premiums until after entry of final judgment.

The record doesn’t reveal whether American Family ever offered to return the premiums directly to the Dodds, so there are disputes of material fact as to whether the insurer effectively rescinded the policy after discovering the material misrepresentations and, if not, whether American Family breached the policy by denying the Dodds’ claim.

The judges upheld summary judgment on the issue of the Dodds’ claims for punitive damages and intentional infliction of emotional distress because the Dodds abandoned them during trial court proceedings.

The case was remanded for further proceedings.
 

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  1. I expressed my thought in the title, long as it was. I am shocked that there is ever immunity from accountability for ANY Government agency. That appears to violate every principle in the US Constitution, which exists to limit Government power and to ensure Government accountability. I don't know how many cases of legitimate child abuse exist, but in the few cases in which I knew the people involved, in every example an anonymous caller used DCS as their personal weapon to strike at innocent people over trivial disagreements that had no connection with any facts. Given that the system is vulnerable to abuse, and given the extreme harm any action by DCS causes to families, I would assume any degree of failure to comply with the smallest infraction of personal rights would result in mandatory review. Even one day of parent-child separation in the absence of reasonable cause for a felony arrest should result in severe penalties to those involved in the action. It appears to me, that like all bureaucracies, DCS is prone to interpret every case as legitimate. This is not an accusation against DCS. It is a statement about the nature of bureaucracies, and the need for ADDED scrutiny of all bureaucratic actions. Frankly, I question the constitutionality of bureaucracies in general, because their power is delegated, and therefore unaccountable. No Government action can be unaccountable if we want to avoid its eventual degeneration into irrelevance and lawlessness, and the law of the jungle. Our Constitution is the source of all Government power, and it is the contract that legitimizes all Government power. To the extent that its various protections against intrusion are set aside, so is the power afforded by that contract. Eventually overstepping the limits of power eliminates that power, as a law of nature. Even total tyranny eventually crumbles to nothing.

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