MH Wins Summary Judgment for Commercial General Liability Insurer

July 1, 2023

Case Studies

McDowell Hetherington won a complete summary judgment victory for its client in July 2023, one month before trial.  The case was one of several complex disputes between the client, a leading casualty insurance provider, and its insured, a mining company that had been sued in numerous cases in Louisiana over the past decade relating to the collapse of a salt cavern.  The insured claimed that MH’s client owed a duty to defend and indemnify, demanded that it reimburse its legal fees and expenses in each of the underlying actions where it had been sued, and accused MH’s client of bad faith for denying coverage.  In this particular case, an intermediate Louisiana court had issued a prior interlocutory decision holding that MH’s client had no duty to indemnify and no duty to defend, but then added that the duty to defend “terminated” as of a certain date.  Based on that ruling, the insured was seeking at trial to recover millions in legal fees and expenses that its counsel had incurred prior to that date, plus bad faith penalties.  In its motion for summary judgment and at oral argument, MH went through the interlocutory ruling in depth and demonstrated how the insured’s interpretation thereof was incorrect and that the appellate court had found no duty to indemnify or duty to defend.  The trial court granted summary judgment and the trial was averted.

MH attorneys Tom Hetherington, Kendall Burr, Stefanos Touzos, and Jay Patterson all helped deliver this key victory for their client.