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Court rules on estate's claim against insurer

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The Indiana Court of Appeals has upheld a judge’s ruling against a California reciprocal insurance exchange in a dispute over whether the insurer would have to pay part of a million dollar judgment.

In Mid-Century Ins. Co. v. Estate of Thomas Lynn Morris, by and through his personal representative, Tommy Lynn Morris, Daemen Sampson, and Dora Robinson, No. 07A01-1106-PL-313, the appellate panel affirmed a judgment by Brown Circuit Judge Judith Stewart granting an estate’s motion to dismiss a complaint involving an auto accident in December 2004.

One of the passengers in the vehicle was Thomas Lynn Morris, whose estate later sued Mid-Century Insurance Company that provided coverage to the driver of the car. The insurance company believed the total $100,000 per occurrence liability limit might be exhausted by the three claimants injured in the accident, and that led to the estate’s lawsuit demanding payment of the policy limit.

The action went to trial and resulted in a jury verdict for the estate in the amount of $1,195,024. Mid-Century in 2010 filed a complaint seeking to not have to pay any portion of the judgment, and the estate filed a motion to dismiss pursuant to Indiana Trial Rule 12(B)(6) because the insurer’s complaint was made in bad faith. The trial court granted the estate’s motion and the appellate panel has affirmed.

Mid-Century argued that no question exists that it was seeking a determination of its rights and obligations stemming from the insurance contract in this case. The company contended that it is not seeking a liability determination, but a review of the contract construction after it was breached to determine the obligations.

Analyzing the record in this case, the appellate judges determined that Mid-Century was attempting to preemptively defend itself against a claim of breach of good faith duty. The judges can’t determine declaratory relief is appropriate or that the trial court abused its discretion here.

 

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  1. Well, maybe it's because they are unelected, and, they have a tendency to strike down laws by elected officials from all over the country. When you have been taught that "Democracy" is something almost sacred, then, you will have a tendency to frown on such imperious conduct. Lawyers get acculturated in law school into thinking that this is the very essence of high minded government, but to people who are more heavily than King George ever did, they may not like it. Thanks for the information.

  2. I pd for a bankruptcy years ago with Mr Stiles and just this week received a garnishment from my pay! He never filed it even though he told me he would! Don't let this guy practice law ever again!!!

  3. Excellent initiative on the part of the AG. Thankfully someone takes action against predators taking advantage of people who have already been through the wringer. Well done!

  4. Conour will never turn these funds over to his defrauded clients. He tearfully told the court, and his daughters dutifully pledged in interviews, that his first priority is to repay every dime of the money he stole from his clients. Judge Young bought it, much to the chagrin of Conour’s victims. Why would Conour need the $2,262 anyway? Taxpayers are now supporting him, paying for his housing, utilities, food, healthcare, and clothing. If Conour puts the money anywhere but in the restitution fund, he’s proved, once again, what a con artist he continues to be and that he has never had any intention of repaying his clients. Judge Young will be proven wrong... again; Conour has no remorse and the Judge is one of the many conned.

  5. Pass Legislation to require guilty defendants to pay for the costs of lab work, etc as part of court costs...

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