Insurance companies fail to show they were harmed by untimely notice

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled a District Court judge from Evansville should not have excused two insurance companies from covering a $13.5 million award solely because the companies were notified of the award after the trial.

In National Union Fire Insurance Company of Pittsburgh, Pa. and Lexington Insurance Company v. Mead Johnson & Company LLC, et al., Nos. 12-3478 and 13-1526, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a summary judgment in favor of the insurers and remanded for further proceedings.

The case originated from the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, Evansville Division.

The 7th Circuit ruled that although Mead Johnson did not tell the insurance companies of the false advertisement lawsuit until after it lost at trial, the insurers have to show they were harmed in order to disclaim coverage.

National Union, the court held, did not explain how it could have garnered a better outcome if it has been notified earlier of the suit. The insurer would have employed the same law firm and attorneys that Mead chose.

Lexington could have presented evidence or argued that with earlier notification it could have convinced the jury to award the plaintiff, PBM Products LLC, less. However, the court noted, the insurers’ joint brief makes almost no mention of Lexington and, instead, assumes that, like National Union, it would have enlisted the same law firm and used the same litigation tactics that resulted in the $13.5 million judgment.  

The 7th Circuit asserted District Judge Richard Young, in finding the insurances companies were harmed, was misled by two decisions from the Indiana Court of Appeals. However, the Circuit Court noted the Indiana Supreme Court has held that if the insured has inflicted no cost on the insurance company by untimely notice, then the insurance company cannot reject the claim.

“To be consistent with Indiana law, the district judge should have said that the later the notice the harder it is for the insured to rebut the presumption that the insurer was harmed by being deprived of the opportunity to control the defense,” Judge Richard Posner wrote. “It’s because that’s a rough row for the insured to hoe that a trial is necessary to determine whether the lateness of the notice in this case was indeed harmless, as it appears to have been on the present, limited record.”



Post a comment to this story

We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. So the prosecutor made an error and the defendants get a full remedy. Just one short paragraph to undo the harm of the erroneous prosecution. Wow. Just wow.

  2. Wake up!!!! Lawyers are useless!! it makes no difference in any way to speak about what is important!! Just dont tell your plans to the "SELFRIGHTEOUS ARROGANT JERKS!! WHO THINK THEY ARE BETTER THAN ANOTHER MAN/WOMAN!!!!!!

  3. Looks like you dont understand Democracy, Civilized Society does not cut a thiefs hands off, becouse now he cant steal or write or feed himself or learn !!! You deserve to be over punished, Many men are mistreated hurt in many ways before a breaking point happens! grow up !!!

  4. It was all that kept us from tyranny. So sad that so few among the elite cared enough to guard the sacred trust. Nobody has a more sacred obligation to obey the law than those who make the law. Sophocles No man is above the law and no man is below it; nor do we ask any man's permission when we ask him to obey it. Obedience to the law is demanded as a right; not asked as a favor. Theodore Roosevelt That was the ideal ... here is the Hoosier reality: The King can do no wrong. Legal maxim From the Latin 'Rex non potest peccare'. When the President does it, that means that it is not illegal. Richard Nixon

  5. So men who think they are girls at heart can use the lady's potty? Usually the longer line is for the women's loo, so, the ladies may be the ones to experience temporary gender dysphoria, who knows? Is it ok to joke about his or is that hate? I may need a brainwash too, hey! I may just object to my own comment, later, if I get myself properly "oriented"