Los Angeles Insurance Coverage Practice Group Obtains Summary Judgment In Duty-To-Defend Matter

December 31, 2014

Los Angeles Partner Alan Yuter and Associate Jennifer Revitz obtained summary judgment on a duty-to-defend matter for their insurer client. The plaintiff's complaint alleged twelve causes of action against the insured in a business dispute with its former tenants. The insurer defended under a reservation of rights because the complaint, in the broadest reading possible, appeared to trigger that duty.

After defending for two years, the plaintiff dismissed all of its causes of action against the insured, with the exception of causes of action for restitution and breach of lease contract. The insurer then withdrew its defense, as there was no potential for coverage under the policy based on the remaining causes of action. The insured sued for bad faith and breach of contract, requesting punitive damages.

Selman Breitman filed a Motion for Summary Judgment on the grounds that the insurer client had no duty to continue defending as a matter of law. The Court agreed and granted the motion, finding that the policy's Personal and Advertising Injury coverage contained an exclusion for breach of contract which precluded coverage for breach of the lease. While the plaintiff argued that torts remained in the cause of action for breach of lease, the Court was not swayed. Even if there were, the Court agreed with Selman Breitman's position that the tenant was only seeking recovery based on a breach of contract, not tort, which was excluded. Furthermore, the restitution cause of action sought recompense for items taken, damaged or destroyed, when the insured executed a defective judgment of eviction outside the policy period, which was not covered. This is another great result for our client by our entire Coverage Practice Group.

Selman Breitman provides this information for educational purposes. Case results depend upon a variety of factors unique to each case. Case results do not guarantee or predict a similar result in any future case. This information should not be construed or relied on as legal advice or to create a lawyer-client relationship.