Ninth Circuit Affirms $2.5 Million Punitive Damages Award Against Disability Insurer in Arizona Bad Faith Case

When insurance companies, including those offering disability, life, health or accidental death policies, engage in conduct that is sufficiently egregious, a court may award punitive damages against the insurance company.  Under Arizona law, to support an award of punitive damages in an insurance bad faith case, the plaintiff must prove a willful and knowing failure …

Read moreNinth Circuit Affirms $2.5 Million Punitive Damages Award Against Disability Insurer in Arizona Bad Faith Case

Does an Insurance Company Need to Deny a Claim to be Liable for Bad Faith Damages? You May Be Surprised to Learn the Answer is “No.”

Every insurance contract is accompanied by an implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, meaning that the insurer cannot “unfairly frustrate” or unreasonably “deprive” the insured of the benefits of the insurance contract. This implied covenant applies to all types of insurance policies, including disability insurance, life insurance, health/medical insurance, long-term care insurance, accidental …

Read moreDoes an Insurance Company Need to Deny a Claim to be Liable for Bad Faith Damages? You May Be Surprised to Learn the Answer is “No.”

In an Insurance Bad Faith Case, Attorneys’ Fees are “Compensatory Damages” That can Increase a Punitive Damages Award

In 2003, the United States Supreme Court decision State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co. v. Campbell, 538 U.S. 408 (2003) that generally limited punitive damages suffered by a plaintiff.  Since then, California courts have stated generally that a 10-1 ratio of punitive damages to compensatory damages may be the legal limit based on the due-process …

Read moreIn an Insurance Bad Faith Case, Attorneys’ Fees are “Compensatory Damages” That can Increase a Punitive Damages Award

Mistreated by Your Insurer? Insurers May Not Be Able to Hide Behind ERISA Preemption to Defeat Claims for Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress

Insureds obligingly pay premiums on their life, health and disability insurance policies and dutifully provide updated information upon request by their insurers, but often do not enjoy the same courtesy when they file an insurance claim.  In extreme cases, antagonistic insurers engage in a host of tactics, including appointing claims examiners who refuse to return …

Read moreMistreated by Your Insurer? Insurers May Not Be Able to Hide Behind ERISA Preemption to Defeat Claims for Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress

California Court of Appeal Finds That a 10:1 Ratio Between Punitive Damages and Compensatory Damages Awards Satisfies Due Process

A 10-to-1 ratio of punitive damages to compensatory damages awards in an insurance bad faith case passes Constitutional muster.  So says the California Court of Appeal in its decision in Nickerson v. Stonebridge Life Insurance Company, __ Cal. App. 4th ___, 2013 Cal. App. LEXIS 583 (2013).  The decision is significant in that it affirms …

Read moreCalifornia Court of Appeal Finds That a 10:1 Ratio Between Punitive Damages and Compensatory Damages Awards Satisfies Due Process

Court Approval is Not Needed to Assert a Punitive Damages Claim Against a Health Care Service Plan

In a victory for health insurance policy holders over health insurers/health care service plans, in Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc, v. Superior Court (Rahm, et al, Real Parties), 2012 Cal. App. LEXIS 138 (Cal. App. 2d Dist. Feb. 15, 2012), the Court of Appeals ruled that a plaintiff does not need to obtain approval from …

Read moreCourt Approval is Not Needed to Assert a Punitive Damages Claim Against a Health Care Service Plan

California Courts Rule Punitive Damages Award of 16 to 1 Ratio Not Unconstitutionally Excessive.

In a somewhat surprising recent decision, the California Court of Appeal upheld a punitive damages award that carried a ratio of more than 16 to 1 based on the compensatory damages awarded by the jury.  The ruling was surprising considering the United States Supreme Courts’ recent holding that “grossly excessive” punitive damages awards offend due …

Read moreCalifornia Courts Rule Punitive Damages Award of 16 to 1 Ratio Not Unconstitutionally Excessive.

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