Ninth Circuit Affirms Jury Trial Victory for MH Client

December 1, 2023

Case Studies

MH’s insurer client brought a declaratory relief action in the United States District Court for the Central District of California for rescission based on an insured’s material misrepresentations in her life insurance application.  The beneficiaries responded with counterclaims for breach of contract and bad faith. The beneficiaries claimed that the producer was aware of the insured’s health concerns such that the producer’s knowledge was imputed to the insurer. The beneficiaries also asserted that the insured’s language issues prevented her from understanding the health-related questions on the application. On cross-motions for summary judgment, MH summarily disposed of the beneficiaries’ bad faith counterclaim and preserved all of their client’s affirmative claims. The case went to a jury trial. In a unanimous verdict on the second day of deliberations, the jury found for MH’s client and determined that the life insurer properly rescinded the life insurance policy.

The beneficiaries appealed both the summary adjudication order and the jury verdict to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit Court. Thereafter, the Ninth Circuit issued a unanimous decision affirming the trial court’s dismissal and jury verdict. The Ninth Circuit concluded that the insured made misrepresentations that were material to the insurer’s decision to issue the policy and that the jury instructions were proper.

MH attorneys Jodi Swick, Jason Richardson, and James Chambers achieved this victory.