ILNews

COA: insurer received actual notice from clients

Back to TopE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

The insurance company that provided legal professional liability coverage for the attorney who abandoned his practice and went on a crime spree did receive actual notice of the attorney’s clients’ claims against the insurer, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled today.

The Bar Plan Mutual Insurance Co. intervened in complaints filed by clients of C. Bruce Davidson Jr. for legal malpractice against the attorney. The Bar Plan issued a policy to Davidson effective from March 2003 to March 2004. In November of that year, Davidson abandoned his law practice without notice and went on a multi-state bank robbery crime spree. He was disbarred in 2004 and is now in federal prison.

Bar Plan argued in its motion for summary judgment that the fact Davidson didn’t notify the insurer of the claims or suits, that he failed to assist or cooperate in the investigation of the claims, and that coverage is moot because there could be no recovery in the underlying suits because recovery in such cases is precluded under the policy.

The trial court granted the motion, finding Paint Shuttle, Inc. v. Continental Casualty Co., 733 N.E.2d 513 (Ind. Ct. App. 2000), applied and was dispositive.

The Court of Appeals concluded in Michael Ashby, et al. v. C. Bruce Davidson, Jr., No. 49A04-0910-CV-569, that Paint Shuttle didn’t support the insurer’s arguments.

Bar Plan received actual written notice of the clients’ claims from the clients, not Davidson, so Bar Plan argued under the policy that it didn’t receive written notice within the policy period.

Under the policy, Davidson was supposed to provide written notice, but he was running from the law during the relevant time period, noted Judge James Kirsch, and also unable to receive demands from the clients within that period. Under the facts of the case, notice provided by Davidson was impossible. Also, the insurer did receive “timely” and “true” notice as those terms are set out in Paint Shuttle.

The purpose of the notice provision has more to do with the ability of Bar Plan to investigate and defend claims in a timely manner than with the ability of Bar Plan to deny coverage because actual notice was supplied by the wrong person, wrote Judge Kirsch. As a matter of law, the actual notice Bar Plan received from the clients was proper.

The case was remanded for further proceedings.  
 

ADVERTISEMENT

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. Hey 2 psychs is never enough, since it is statistically unlikely that three will ever agree on anything! New study admits this pseudo science is about as scientifically valid as astrology ... done by via fortune cookie ....John Ioannidis, professor of health research and policy at Stanford University, said the study was impressive and that its results had been eagerly awaited by the scientific community. “Sadly, the picture it paints - a 64% failure rate even among papers published in the best journals in the field - is not very nice about the current status of psychological science in general, and for fields like social psychology it is just devastating,” he said. http://www.theguardian.com/science/2015/aug/27/study-delivers-bleak-verdict-on-validity-of-psychology-experiment-results

  2. Indianapolis Bar Association President John Trimble and I are on the same page, but it is a very large page with plenty of room for others to join us. As my final Res Gestae article will express in more detail in a few days, the Great Recession hastened a fundamental and permanent sea change for the global legal service profession. Every state bar is facing the same existential questions that thrust the medical profession into national healthcare reform debates. The bench, bar, and law schools must comprehensively reconsider how we define the practice of law and what it means to access justice. If the three principals of the legal service profession do not recast the vision of their roles and responsibilities soon, the marketplace will dictate those roles and responsibilities without regard for the public interests that the legal profession professes to serve.

  3. I have met some highly placed bureaucrats who vehemently disagree, Mr. Smith. This is not your father's time in America. Some ideas are just too politically incorrect too allow spoken, says those who watch over us for the good of their concept of order.

  4. Lets talk about this without forgetting that Lawyers, too, have FREEDOM OF SPEECH AND ASSOCIATION

  5. Baer filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals Seventh Circuit on April 30 2015. When will this be decided? How many more appeals does this guy have? Unbelievable this is dragging on like this.

ADVERTISEMENT