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Justices remand dental office fire insurance dispute

March 12, 2015

The Indiana Supreme Court on Thursday reset the issues before a trial court in a dispute arising from a shortage in contents insurance after a fire at a dental office.

Justices reversed in part, affirmed in part and remanded entry of partial summary judgment in favor of insurer ProAssurance Indemnity Co. Inc. Indiana Restorative Dentistry P.C. sued ProAssurance as well as its representative, The Laven Insurance Agency, after a fire caused more than $704,000 in damage to contents that were insured for just more than $204,000.

The dental office claimed a special relationship with Laven after carrying insurance with the company for more than 30 years established a duty for Laven to advise regarding insufficient coverage. Chief Justice Loretta Rush wrote that summary judgment in favor of Laven on that question was improper because there are questions as to whether a special relationship existed.

Rush also wrote for the unanimous court that Laven did not breach a duty to IRD because there was no implied contract or a meeting of the minds that required Laven to provide full coverage.   

“We therefore reverse summary judgment regarding Laven’s duty to advise but affirm summary judgment against IRD regarding Laven’s contractual duty to procure full coverage,” Rush wrote. “On remand, the parties may continue to litigate Laven’s duty to advise; Laven’s alleged contractual duty to procure $350,000 in office contents coverage; and ProAssurance’s vicarious liability for Laven’s alleged wrongdoing.”

The case is Indiana Restorative Dentistry, P.C. v. The Laven Insurance Agency, Inc. and ProAssurance Indemnity Co., Inc. F/K/A the Medical Assurance Co., Inc.,
49S05-1407-PL-491.  
 

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