Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Decision in 'Roehl Transport, Inc. v. Liberty Mutual Insurance Co.' 2010 WI 49

The Wisconsin Supreme Court today issued its decision in this case (2008AP1303) on certification from the Court of Appeals affirming in part and reversing in part the Circuit Court. See Argument. Opinion by Chief Justice Abrahamson for a unanimous court.
¶7 We hold as follows:

(1) Roehl Transport, an insured with a deductible for its liability coverage, has a cognizable bad faith claim against its insurance company when the company has control over settlement of a third-party claim and engages in bad faith conduct toward the insured, even though the judgment does not exceed the policy limits.

(2) Sufficient credible evidence supports the jury's finding of bad faith and the jury's determination of damages in this case.

(3) Judicial public policy considerations do not preclude Roehl Transport's bad faith claim.

(4) Roehl Transport is entitled to attorney fees as a matter of law upon the jury's finding of bad faith. The amount of attorney fees to be awarded is for the circuit court to determine on remand.

(5) The circuit court did not err in denying Roehl Transport's claim for punitive damages.

Insured recovers bad faith judgment, by David Ziemer

Wisconsin Supreme Court expands reach of insurance doctrine of bad faith, by Joe Forward, State Bar of Wisconsin