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November 2020 Torts & Insurance coverage Fourth Circuit Circumstances of Curiosity

Periodically, Nexsen Pruet’s attorney Marc Manos, a member of the SC Bar Torts and Insurance Practice Section Council, sheds light on some recent Fourth Circle appeals cases that focus on litigation and insurance.

The types and insurance cases selected for November 2020 are listed below.

Flexi-Van Leasing, Inc. v The Travelers By. Co.

No. 19-1847 (November 4, 2020) (unpublished) INSURANCE Choice of law, conflict of interest, bad faith: Summary judgment confirmed for insurers. By including in his plea that the insurance covered South Carolina interests, the plaintiff admitted in court that South Carolina law was applicable. Using South Carolina law, the district court duly determined that a letter of reservation did not automatically create a conflict of interest for the insurance attorney. In addition, the insurance defense attorney’s refusal to pursue a third party claim, unless the insured person who was paid for that part of the work as the insurer, for the work for which there is no duty of defense, did not result in a conflict between the Insurer and the insured. Thus, the insured prematurely insured the insurance defense attorney and took control of the defense and settlement, violated the policy and lost his rights to payment of the defense and settlement. Since the insurers’ reservation of being excluded from the policy by airplanes, cars or watercraft was reasonable for legal reasons, there could be no ill will without other evidence of inappropriate conduct.

View the case here.

Griffin v. Mortier

No. 19-7171 (November 4, 2020) (unpublished) PRISON INMATE SUIT, willful indifference, medical condition. The order rejected under rule 12 (b) (6) was partially confirmed, partially evacuated and taken into custody. Plaintiff Griffin had a seizure during lunch in the prison dining room. He fell and hit his head, causing obvious bruising and bleeding. He got confused and insecure. The prison nurse, Defendant Mortier, arrived on the spot, did not examine, treat, or evaluate Griffin, and ordered him to be taken to a cell for observation. Griffin had two more seizures in the cell before an unidentified person called an ambulance. A CT scan at the hospital revealed a fractured skull and hemorrhage in the brain that required surgery. Griffin claimed to be permanently injured. The court analyzed the complaint from the two perspectives necessary for an intentional indifference lawsuit – objective allegations of a serious medical condition and subjective allegations of indifference to the inmate’s medical condition. The allegations related to the Nurse’s defendant met both points. The court cleared this part of the order, dismissed the complaint and dismissed it.

View the case here.

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