Successfully Represented Insurance Company in Policy Dispute
We represented our client, an insurance company, in a dispute over the application of a $5 million commercial umbrella policy following a fatal car accident. The case involved the owner of a car dealership, whose son was driving a dealership car that struck and killed a motorcyclist and the motorcyclist’s estate. The estate and the owner of the dealership contended that the dealership’s commercial umbrella insurance policy covered the owner’s son because he was driving a car owned by the dealership, even though the son was not working for the dealership. After significant discovery disputes and motions practice, we sought a writ of prohibition from the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals based, in part, upon what was eventually found to be “outrageous conduct” by the owner of the dealership during the course of discovery. Ultimately, the West Virginia Supreme Court agreed with our position that the commercial umbrella insurance policy did not apply, and all claims against our client were dismissed.
Bowman v. Charleston Area Medical Center
Ms. Rice represented a hospital in a class action filed by four uninsured patients who alleged that a hospital's charging of uninsured patients at full charges, while charging Medicare, Medicaid, and insured patients at less than full charges, was unlawful.
Obtained Dismissal of a West Virginia Patient Safety Act Claim
A former hospital administrator’s claim of retaliation in violation of the West Virginia Patient Safety Act was dismissed because we proved that the former employee was not subject to the Act’s protection because she was an administrator.
Summary Judgment on Employment Discrimination Claims
We successfully demonstrated to the judge that a hospital administrator’s allegations of harassment by a male nurse and failure by the hospital to properly respond to her report of harassment could not be tied to a gender motivated bias. This summary judgment award was subsequently upheld on appeal.
Obtained Writ of Prohibition from the West Virginia Supreme Court Dismissing Insurance Bad Faith Claims for Lack of Subject Matter Jurisdiction
We represented an insurance carrier accused of acting in bad faith in violation of West Virginia common law and the West Virginia Unfair Trade Practices Act in connection with the defense of an ongoing personal injury lawsuit and related declaratory judgment action concerning the scope of insurance coverage applicable to the personal injury lawsuit. The insurance carrier had offered what it considered the limits of the applicable coverage in order to settle the personal injury lawsuit, but this was insufficient to resolve the matter and the underlying plaintiff initiated a declaratory judgment action to seek an expansion of the amount of applicable coverage. Because the insureds wanted as much coverage afforded to them as possible for the personal injury lawsuit they asserted bad faith claims against the insurance carrier for taking the position it had offered its limits. The West Virginia Supreme Court found the insureds’ bad faith claims were not ripe because the question of what coverage applied to the personal injury lawsuit had not been resolved. The West Virginia Supreme Court further noted there is basis for a bad faith cause of action when an insurance carrier retains independent counsel to defend an insured and separate counsel to prosecute a declaratory judgment action concerning the scope of coverage afforded to the insured.
Acquisition of Acute Care Hospital
Dinsmore represented a non-profit health care enterprise in the multi-million dollar acquisition of a closely-held acute care hospital and related multi-million dollar financing transaction.
Successful Defense and Appeal of Declaratory Judgment Action for an Insurer in a Liquor Liability Case
We represented a large commercial insurer in a liquor liability case where the plaintiff sought the policy limits of $5 million in damages. Our client insured an establishment that served alcohol to a patron, who struck a pedestrian with her car after leaving the establishment. The pedestrian sued the driver, the insured establishment, the nightclub, and our client, seeking in part a declaratory judgment that our client was obligated under an umbrella policy to pay for the insured establishment’s liability. We represented the insurer through the entire case, from pleadings through successful appeal. We won summary judgment at the trial court, and the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals affirmed on appeal that the loss was subject to an exclusion under the policy and, thus, was not covered under the insurance policy. The ruling resulted in zero liability for our client.
Successfully Defended a Large Regional Insurer From a Challenge to their Product and Rate
We successfully defended a challenge by an insured to a new personal lines product and corresponding rate filed with the West Virginia Insurance Commissioner. We defended the insurer before the proceeding, before the West Virginia Insurance Commissioner, on appeal to the Circuit Court and successfully briefed and argued the insurer's position before the Supreme Court of Appeal of West Virginia. The product and rate filing had already been in use in West Virginia at the time the insured filed the rate, so a decision to invalidate the product or rate would have been significant.