Last week, the Oregon Supreme Court made it just a little easier for an insured to recover the attorney fees that it has been forced to spend in compelling an insurer to pay up. In Long v. Farmers Ins. Co. of Oregon, the Supreme Court resolved an old ambiguity about what “recovery” means under the fee-shifting rule in Oregon’s insurance statutes. This decision should put to rest at least one opportunity for gamesmanship by insurers in Oregon. Continue Reading A “recovery” against insurers in Oregon does not require a money judgment

A California appellate court recently handed an insurer a nasty defeat in a case involving some pretty sharp elbows by the insurer during the adjustment of a property-loss claim. In Stephens & Stephens XII, LLC v. Fireman’s Fund Ins. Co. (Nov. 24, 2014), the insured owned a warehouse that burglars had heavily damaged, including stripping wiring and electrical components from the building. For several years after the loss, the insured and insurer disputed the value of the covered “replacement cost” to fully repair the damages to the building (the insurer suspected that much of the damage occurred in the month before two burglars were caught in the act, which was only three days after the insurer’s coverage had started).

At trial, the jury found in the insured’s favor as to the timing of the loss, awarded a little over $2.1 million Continue Reading Insurer Not Allowed to Benefit from Its Refusal to Acknowledge Coverage

The Oregon Court of Appeals yesterday issued an opinion confirming that Oregon law remains faithful to the bedrock principle in coverage disputes that ambiguities in a policy must be resolved in favor of the insured.

In Patton v. Mutual of Enumclaw Ins. Co. (Oct. 8, 2014), an insured seeking coverage under his homeowner’s policy found himself between a rock and hard place, at least under the insurer’s erroneous attempt to link two unconnected policy provisions to deny coverage. Lowell Patton’s house burned down on November 8, 2001 and he sought the full value to rebuild under the “replacement cost” coverage written by Enumclaw.

Continue Reading Oregon Court of Appeals Rejects Insurer’s Heads-I-Win, Tails-I-Win Policy Interpretation