JSH Reporter Summer 2014 - Page 21

TRIALCOURTDECISIONS 021 Empire Talent v. Auto-Owners February 12, 2014 U.S. District Court Don Myles and Patrick Gorman Don Myles and Patrick Gorman recently obtained a unanimous verdict in a breach of contract “reasonable expectations” case. Plaintiff Empire Talent & Modeling filed suit against Auto-Owners Insurance Company for breach of the insurance contract by not paying the policy limit of $100,000 for lost media and talent portfolios. Plaintiff also alleged bad faith and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Plaintiff argued that Defendant Auto-Owners denied the claim for lost media and talent portfolios without a reasonable basis. It also argued that Defendants breached the insurance contract by not paying the policy limit after being presented with proof of loss. Mr. Myles and Mr. Gorman, counsel for Defendant, Auto-Owners, argued that Defendant’s conduct was reasonable and had correctly interpreted the insurance policy. The Court granted Auto-Owners’ motion for summary judgment on bad faith, punitive damages, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. It denied summary judgment on the breach of contract claim, finding a question of fact on Plaintiff’s claim for reasonable expectations. At trial, Defendant argued that its independent insurance agent never made any representations inconsistent with the policy, and that Plaintiff had unreasonable expectations regarding how a claim would be paid. After hearing the evidence, the jury returned a unanimous defense verdict (12-0) within two hours. North 43rd Enterprises v. Hartford January 30, 2014 Maricopa County Superior Court Bill Caravetta JSH RESOURCE ALERT! State Judicial Profiles Bill Caravetta, a Partner at Jones, Skelton & Hochuli, recently obtained summary judgment in a $4.2 million bad faith case. The bad faith and breach of contract lawsuit stemmed from a commercial roof claim following a severe hail storm, which hit the Phoenix area on October 10, 2010. The Plaintiff, North 43rd Enterprises, retained Texas based Doyle-Raisner to bring the bad faith action against Hartford, who insured the building at the time of the storm. USLAW has released the 2014 edition of State Judicial Profiles by County, which provides insight into local courts and juries from USLAW member firms across the country. Through its annual State Judicial Profile by County resource, USLAW offers a judicial profiles for all fifty states. The profiles provide clients with additional insight into the markets where they have legal matters. The profiles are supported by the common consensus of many lawyers whose understanding of each jurisdiction is based on personal experience and opinion. County-bycounty comparisons are conducted in-state, not between states. The 2014 State Judicial Profile by County is available by clicking here: http://web. uslaw.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/2014_ USLAW_JudicialProfiles.pdf. Following an extensive investigation by Hartford, and based on numerous expert opinions, Hartford determined that North 43rd’s roof had not sustained hail damage necessitating replacement. Plaintiff’s experts disagreed and filed suit in federal court. Plaintiff’s owner, Robert Howe, admitted in his deposition that Hartford “had a reasonable basis to deny the claim” based on its experts’ opinions. He conceded that Hartford did not act in bad faith and admitted there was no basis for the punitive damages claim. Based on these admissions, Hartford, through counsel Bill Caravetta, moved for summary judgment. Following oral argument, U.S. District Court Judge Ve ɑ