Articles Posted in Antitrust & Trade Regulation

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William and Sarah Bassett, who were insured by State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company, alleged that State Farm engaged in unfair trade practices with regard to the Bassetts’ assertion of unfair trade practices. The Bassetts based their claim on the assertion that State Farm never properly offered additional uninsured coverage, as State Farm was statutorily required to do. The circuit court granted the Bassetts’ motion to compel answers to three interrogatories seeking the names, addresses and telephone numbers of State Farm insureds in West Virginia who may have experienced difficulties regarding their uninsured motorist coverage. State Farm filed this original proceeding in prohibition asking the Court to prohibit enforcement of its discovery order. The Supreme Court granted relief, as moulded, prohibiting enforcement of the order granting the Bassetts’ motion to compel, concluding that the circuit court erred by failing to bar the disclosure of the names, addresses and telephone numbers of State Farm’s other insureds. View "State ex rel. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co. v. Hon. Jeffrey D. Cramer" on Justia Law

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King Coal Chevrolet Company and Lewis Chevrolet Oldsmobile Cadillac Automotive were two competing Chevrolet dealerships located twelve miles apart. After General Motors Corporation filed for bankruptcy, Lewis closed its Chevrolet operations pursuant to a wind-down agreement with General Motors. General Motors subsequently signed a dealership agreement with Crossroads Chevrolet, which was located ten miles from King Coal. King Coal demanded that General Motors provide it with written notice, as required by W. Va. Code 17A-6A-12(2), of General Motors’ intent to “establish an additional dealer” so that it could exercise its statutory rights and protect its interests under the West Virginia Motor Vehicle Dealers, Distributors, Wholesalers and Manufacturers Act. General Motors asserted that it was exempt from providing notice to King Coal by the safe harbor provision contained in section 17A-6A-12(4) because it was re-establishing a new motor vehicle dealership that had closed within the preceding two years. The federal district court submitted a certified question to the Supreme Court, which answered by holding that the circumstances in this case permitted General Motors to avail itself of the safe harbor contained in section 17A-6A-12(4). View "King Coal Chevrolet Co. v. Gen. Motors LLC " on Justia Law

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Petitioner was a guest passenger in a vehicle insured by Progressive Classic Insurance Company when the vehicle was rear-ended by a truck. Petitioner received medical payments coverage under the Progressive policy for some of the medical expenses she incurred for the treatment of her injuries. Petitioner later successfully sued the truck owner and driver and received damages. Progressive subsequently asserted a subrogation lien on the recovery for the amount it paid under the medical payments coverage. Petitioner filed this complaint against Progressive, alleging common law and statutory bad faith claims. The circuit court dismissed the action, determining that because Petitioner was not a named insured under the Progressive policy and paid no premiums for the policy, Petitioner was a third-party insured and was, therefore, precluded from pursuing her bad faith claims against Progressive. The Supreme Court reversed, holding (1) Petitioner was a first-party insured under the Progressive policy because the policy included within the definition of an insured person "any other person while occupying a covered vehicle"; and (2) therefore, Petitioner may pursue an action against Progressive for common law and statutory bad faith. View "Dorsey v. Progressive Classic Ins. Co." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff sought underinsured motorists (UIM) coverage from Respondent, Plaintiff's insurance carrier, after he was involved in an accident. Plaintiff and his wife eventually filed suit against Respondent seeking to recover the benefits. Plaintiff and Respondent settled the claim. Plaintiffs then amended their complaint against Respondent to allege a bad faith claim for violation of the Unfair Trade Practices Act, alleging that Respondent acted in bad faith by not paying their first-party claim for UIM. The jury returned a verdict in favor of Plaintiffs. Plaintiffs then moved for attorney fees and costs for substantially prevailing in the underlying bad faith award. The circuit court denied the costs and fees. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding that the circuit court did not abuse its discretion in concluding that there was no factual basis upon which to award fees on the bad faith claim. View "Lemasters v. Nationwide Mut. Ins. Co." on Justia Law

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Hess Oil Company asserted an unfair trade practices claim against two insurance companies. The jury returned a verdict against the insurance companies and awarded punitive damages. The circuit court, however, reduced the amount of the award by means of remittitur. The insurance companies appealed, contending that the trial court erred by giving conflicting jury instructions, introducing improper evidence of future remediation costs, and awarding punitive damages. Hess also appealed, challenging the court's reduction of its punitive damages award. The Supreme Court set aside the jury verdict and remanded for a new trial, holding that the trial court committed multiple errors, and the errors affected the jury's verdict in a manner prejudicial to the insurance companies. View "AIG Domestic Claims, Inc. v. Hess Oil Co., Inc." on Justia Law

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As the primary beneficiary under an insurance policy issued by Appellee Penn Mutual Life Insurance Company, Appellant Roger Goff brought a cause of action under the West Virginia Unfair Trade Practices Act, asserting that Penn Mutual had violated the statutory duty of good faith and fair dealing. After deciding that Goff did not meet the accepted definition of either a first- or a third-party bad faith claimant, the trial court dismissed Goff's complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that a primary life insurance beneficiary may assert a statutory bad faith action upon the death of the insured. Remanded. View "Goff v. Penn Mut. Life Ins. Co." on Justia Law