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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made misrepresentations in their application, ordering the trial court to take a closer look at whether the insurer rescinded the policy after discovering the misrepresentations.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return the premiums directly to the Dodds, so there are disputes of material fact as to whether the insurer effectively rescinded the policy after discovering the material misrepresentations and, if not, whether American Family breached the policy by denying the Dodds’ claim.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. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  2. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

  3. I will agree with that as soon as law schools stop lying to prospective students about salaries and employment opportunities in the legal profession. There is no defense to the fraudulent numbers first year salaries they post to mislead people into going to law school.

  4. The sad thing is that no fish were thrown overboard The "greenhorn" who had never fished before those 5 days was interrogated for over 4 hours by 5 officers until his statement was illicited, "I don't want to go to prison....." The truth is that these fish were measured frozen off shore and thawed on shore. The FWC (state) officer did not know fish shrink, so the only reason that these fish could be bigger was a swap. There is no difference between a 19 1/2 fish or 19 3/4 fish, short fish is short fish, the ticket was written. In addition the FWC officer testified at trial, he does not measure fish in accordance with federal law. There was a document prepared by the FWC expert that said yes, fish shrink and if these had been measured correctly they averaged over 20 inches (offshore frozen). This was a smoke and mirror prosecution.

  5. I love this, Dave! Many congrats to you! We've come a long way from studying for the bar together! :)

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