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.



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. Joe, you might want to do some reading on the fate of Hoosier whistleblowers before you get your expectations raised up.

  2. I had a hospital and dcs caseworker falsify reports that my child was born with drugs in her system. I filed a complaint with the Indiana department of health....and they found that the hospital falsified drug screens in their investigation. Then I filed a complaint with human health services in Washington DC...dcs drug Testing is unregulated and is indicating false positives...they are currently being investigated by human health services. Then I located an attorney and signed contracts one month ago to sue dcs and Anderson community hospital. Once the suit is filed I am taking out a loan against the suit and paying a law firm to file a writ of mandamus challenging the courts jurisdiction to invoke chins case against me. I also forwarded evidence to a u.s. senator who contacted hhs to push an investigation faster. Once the lawsuit is filed local news stations will be running coverage on the situation. Easy day....people will be losing their jobs soon...and judge pancol...who has attempted to cover up what has happened will also be in trouble. The drug testing is a kids for cash and federal funding situation.

  3. (A)ll (C)riminals (L)ove (U)s is up to their old, "If it's honorable and pro-American, we're against it," nonsense. I'm not a big Pence fan but at least he's showing his patriotism which is something the left won't do.

  4. While if true this auto dealer should be held liable, where was the BMV in all of this? How is it that the dealer was able to get "clean" titles to these vehicles in order to sell them to unsuspecting consumers?

  5. He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good. He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance. He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation: For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent: He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.. He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless [ ] Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions. GOD BLESS THE GOVERNORS RESISTING! Count on the gutless judiciary to tie our children down and facilitate the swords being drawn across their throats. Wake Up America ...