California Supreme Court Civil Issues Pending: Insurance


Can an Insurer Seek Reimbursement from Independent Counsel?  After the Court of Appeal affirmed judgment, the Court granted review on following issue: After an insured has secured a judgment requiring an insurer to provide independent counsel to the insured (see San Diego Fed. Credit Union v. Cumis Ins. Society Inc. (1984) 162 Cal.App.3d 358), can the insurer seek reimbursement of defense fees and costs it considers unreasonable and unnecessary by pursuing a reimbursement action against independent counsel or can the insurer seek reimbursement only from its insured? Hartford Casualty Ins. Co. v. J.R. Marketing, L.L.C., S211645 (opinon below A133750, formerly 216 Cal.App.4th 1444). Review was granted 9/18/13.

Can Complaint Allegations Constitute “Disparagement" To Trigger Coverage?  After the Court of Appeal affirmed summary judgment for the insurer, the Court granted review on this issue: Did the allegations of the complaint constitute disparagement for purposes of insurance coverage or the duty to defend under the “advertising injury” provision of defendant’s insurance policy? Hartford Casualty Ins. Co. v. Swift Distribution, Inc., S207172 (opinion below B234234, formerly 210 Cal.App.4th 915) Review was granted on 2/13/13.  Update 3/6/14: Oral argument scheduled for 4/3/14. Update 4/3/14: Case argued and submitted.  Update 6/12/14: Opinion issued. The unanimous court affirmed the Court of Appeal, holding that a claim of disparagement requires a plaintiff to show a false or misleading statement that (1) specifically refers to the plaintiff‘s product or business and (2) clearly derogates that product or business. Each requirement must be satisfied by express mention or by clear implication. Because Dahl‘s suit contains no allegation that Ultimate clearly derogated the Multi-Cart, the Court found no claim of disparagement triggering Hartford‘s duty to defend.

Is the Henkel Corp. Opinion Inconsistent With Ins. Code § 520? After the Court of Appeal denied a petition for peremptory writ of mandate, the Court granted review on the following issue: Are the limitations on assignment of third party liability insurance policy benefits recognized in Henkel Corp. v. Hartford Accident & Indemnity Co. (2003) 29 Cal.4th 934 inconsistent with the provisions of Insurance Code § 520? Fluor Corp. v. Superior Court, S205889 (opinion below, G045579, formerly 208 Cal.App.4th 1506). Review was granted 12/12/12.

Can Misconduct Disqualify a Discharged Employee From Unemployment Benefits?
Did the trial court properly find that employee misconduct within the meaning of Amador v. Unemployment Ins. Appeals Bd. (1984) 35 Cal.3d 671 disqualified a discharged employee from receiving unemployment insurance benefits? Paratransit, Inc. v. Unemployment Ins. Appeals Bd., S204221 (opinion below, C063863, formerly 206 Cal.App.4th 1319), review granted on 9/26/12.  Update 4/4/14: Oral argument scheduled for 5/6/14. Update: 5/6/14: Case argued and submitted. The briefs are hereUpdate 7/3/14: Opinion issued. The unanimous Court held, based on the undisputed facts in the administrative record, that the employee’s refusal to sign a disciplinary notice with which he disagreed, based on his mistaken belief that he was entitled to first consult with a union representative, was not misconduct but was, at most, a good faith error in judgment that does not disqualify him from unemployment benefits.

Are Claims of State Labor and Insurance Laws Violations Preempted by the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act? Is an action under the Unfair Competition Law (Bus. & Prof. Code, § 17200 et seq.) that is based on a trucking company’s alleged violation of state labor and insurance laws “related to the price, route, or service” of the company and, therefore, preempted by the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act of 1994 (49 U.S.C. § 14501)? People ex re. Harris v. Pac Anchor Transportation, Inc., S194388 (opinion below B220966, formerly 195 Cal.App.4th 765), review granted 8/10/11.  Update 6/26/13: Court orders supplemental briefing addressing the effect of American Trucking Associations, Inc. v. City of Los Angeles (2013) 569 U.S. ___ [2013 U.S. LEXIS 4539], and Dan's City Used Cars, Inc. v. Pelkey (2013) 569 U.S. ___ [133 S. Ct. 1769] on the issue of preemption by the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act of 1994.  Update 12/11/13: Review granted in Rodriguez v. RWA Trucking Company, Inc., S214150 (opinion below B241727, as modified, formerly 219 Cal.App.4th 692). Update 5/1/14: Oral argument scheduled for 5/28/14.  Update 5/28/14: Case argued and submitted. The briefs are here

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