Sunday, September 26, 2010

Northern California Courts Rule in Insurance Company cases

Cartoon Courtesy Geek and Poke
Several Judges in the Northern District of California released a series of cases involving insurance companies among them:

In Valley Forge Insurance Co. v. Zurich American Insurance Co. a series of construction workers were on a canopy roof covered in plywood of which "95% had dry-rotted" the roof collapsed and the workers on it sustained injuries which settled for $1.1M.  Now the insurance companies who represented various parties are arguing about who should pay the totality of the policy value before the other side pays.  This issue turns on whether the foreman or the engineer who simultaneously inspected the canopy with the workers on it is more negligent.  Judge Saundra Brown Armstrong ruled this was too close of a call to resolve on a motion for summary judgment and set the case for trial.

Corby v. Unum Life Insurance Company is a complaint to pay insurance benefits under the Employee Retirement Income Savings Act of 1974 (ERISA).  The plaintiff requested and obtained benefits for depression after she recovered from breast cancer.  The plan limited benefits to two years of self reported symptoms.  Here, the plaintiff argues depression is not a self-reported symptom since it is a side effect of estrogen medication provided after cancer treatment.  The defense argues that four physicians examined Ms. Corby and none obtained any information about her condition other than self reported symptoms.  Judge William Alsup agreed with the insurance company and granted it summary judgment.

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