ILNews

Justices rule in favor of insurer in dispute over canceled policy

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

The Indiana Supreme Court affirmed summary judgment for American Family Insurance in a lawsuit filed by a couple after the insurer denied coverage for a 2003 fire at their home and voided the insurance policy from its beginning.

In Michael Dodd and Katherine Dodd v. American Family Mutual Insurance Company, 12S02-1203-CT-170, Michael and Katherine Dodd filed a claim with American Family after their garage was destroyed by a fire in 2003. Michael Dodd did not disclose in his application with American Family in 1998 that his then-fiancée Katherine’s home, where he lived, was destroyed in a fire earlier that year. Michael and Katherine Dodd didn’t marry until 2000, but they lived together when he applied for the policy.

In investigating the 2003 fire, Michael Dodd told American Family about the 1998 fire. The company treated it as a misrepresentation, voided the insurance policy ab initio and denied the Dodds' claim for the 2003 fire.

The couple sued for breach of contract and intentional infliction of emotional distress. The trial court ruled in favor of American Family. The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed in part and ordered more proceedings on the breach of contract claim.

The justices upheld the trial court’s grant of summary judgment to American Family, rejecting the Dodds’ argument that American Family couldn’t void or rescind the policy because it hadn’t first returned all paid premium amounts to them. They didn’t make that argument in response to the insurer’s motion for summary judgment and the issue wasn’t before the trial court, Chief Justice Brent Dickson wrote.

But even if the Dodds had made the argument before the lower court, an exception to this requirement has been met where an insurer doesn’t have to tender a return of premiums to rescind a contract when the insurer has paid a claim which is greater in amount than the premiums paid.

The Dodds received $5,500 from American family for hail damage, more than twice the amount of the premiums they paid.

The justices ordered the trial court to release and return the tender of premiums to American Family, which the trial court was holding until the conclusion of the Dodds’ appeal.

 

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
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
ADVERTISEMENT
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. Today, I want to use this opportunity to tell everyone about Dr agbuza of agbuzaodera(at)gmail. com, on how he help me reunited with my husband after 2 months of divorce.My husband divorce me because he saw another woman in his office and he said to me that he is no longer in love with me anymore and decide to divorce me.I seek help from the Net and i saw good talk about Dr agbuza and i contact him and explain my problem to him and he cast a spell for me which i use to get my husband back within 2 days.am totally happy because there is no reparations and side-effect. If you need his help Email him at agbuzaodera(at)gmail. com

  2. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  3. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  4. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  5. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

ADVERTISEMENT