Judge tired of discovery spats in airport insurance dispute

July 23, 2015

The latest dispute in a contentious multi-million-dollar insurance coverage lawsuit arising from a terminal construction mishap at Indianapolis International Airport has led a federal judge to single out opposing counsel in the case.

“(T)his case involves more discovery disputes than the undersigned’s other non-prisoner civil cases combined,” Judge Jane Magnus-Stinson wrote Tuesday in an order in Indianapolis Airport Authority v. Travelers Property Casualty Company of America, 1:13-cv-01316.

“Counsel are reminded that discovery is intended to be a self-managed process … and the size of the amount in controversy does not alter that principal. The record before the Court reveals a lack of cooperation that appears to have obstructed, rather than elucidated, the development of the factual record,” Magnus-Stinson wrote.

The judge’s order granted Traveler’s request to depose a key airport expert witness for longer than the seven hours permitted under Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Traveler’s was permitted to question the witness an additional four hours after Magnus-Stinson overruled her magistrate’s recommendation against the extended deposition.

The airport sued insurer Travelers in August 2013, alleging Travelers had failed to compensate according to its policy for claims exceeding $13.4 million after a steel collapse incident in January 2007 when the airport’s midfield terminal was under construction.

Traveler’s has paid about $4.2 million in claims, but the airport’s lawsuit claims that under its policy, the insurer still owes more than $9.2 million in reimbursement. The airport claims breach of contract and seeks a declaratory judgment that Traveler’s must pay costs arising from the collapse and its expenses.

In response, Traveler’s argues it has paid all claims for covered damages, losses and expenses. The insurer asks the court for a judgment that there is no coverage for further amounts the airport claims and a ruling the company didn’t breach its policy.

The airport authority is represented by Ice Miller LLP of Indianapolis, and Traveler’s is represented by the Chicago firm of Johnson & Bell Ltd.


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