Insurance Coverage/Insurance Bad Faith

2016_attyWhile at Vargas and Bartlett handling personal injury defense matters Steve was exposed to automobile, homeowners and general liability commercial insurance policies. Eventually Steve handled insurance coverage opinions at Vargas. When Steve joined Beckley, Singleton, Delanoy Jemison and List he received more exposure to insurance coverage law and started handling insurance bad faith claims in the context of underinsured (UIM) and uninsured motorist (UM) automobile claims.  Steve was eventually asked to present a seminar on handling UIM and UM cases. Attached here is a copy of the seminar materials Uninsured Motorist Coverage Issues. As Steve’s expertise continued to grow with his experience in coverage opinions he began handling declaratory relief cases where insurance coverage was in dispute.He also taught a seminar on Insurance Coverage in Nevada.

Steve was selected by his client Old Republic Insurance Co. to handle a very complex insurance coverage question that arose from the crash of an aircraft on final approach which landed  on a person who was in his back yard in Carson City, Nevada. The pilot of the aircraft had failed to obtain the required annual inspection. The insurance policy had an exclusion providing there was no coverage if the pilot/owner had not had the Federal Air Regulation (FAR) required annual inspection. Steve filed a declaratory relief action and successfully convinced the Court that there was no coverage. This decision was appealed to the Ninth Circuit who certified a question to the Nevada Supreme Court. Both the Nevada Supreme Court and Ninth Circuit agreed with Steve that there was no coverage. See Old Republic Ins. Co. v. Jensen, Griffin, 402 F.3d 876 (9th Cir. 2005), 276 F.Supp.2d 1097 (D. Nev. 2003) attached and an article Steve wrote on this subject Exclusionary Conditions in Aircraft Policies.

Steve occasionally represents insureds, for example Steve represented a physician who had his auto insurer attempt to deny coverage for a lawsuit against him from an automobile accident involving his daughter. The auto insurer filed a declaratory relief case to establish there was no coverage. Steve answered and filed a counterclaim for insurance bad faith, then moved for summary judgment arguing there was insurance coverage. This resulted in Steve successfully convincing the insurer to settle the underlying claim and reimburse the doctor for his attorneys fees. Steve also recently filed a declaratory relief case for an aviation insurer who discovered their insured, after having had the insured’s aircraft seized by the U.S. Government,  had made false statements in their policy application. Within a period of 6 months Steve assisted the insurer with rescinding the policy, filing a declaratory relief action, then filed a Motion for Summary Judgment to establish that the rescission was proper and reached an agreement with the insured admitting the policy was rescinded and no benefits were owed. Steve also defended a national aviation insurer against insurance bad faith claims arising from damage to a Turbo Commander aircraft. Steve Also was recently asked to evaluate coverage for a punitive damage claim involving 4 deaths in an aircraft crash for a notional insurer.