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Adams Stepner Attorneys Secure Significant Precedent on Insurance Coverage from the Sixth Circuit

Jeff Mando and Jennifer Langen, Partners in the Firm’s Business Litigation group, secured another significant victory in the Sixth Circuit.  Mr. Mando and Ms. Langen saved their client $3 million in an insurance coverage dispute that arose in Pulaski County.  In that dispute, a mother and her fetus died while another person was severely injured.  The insurance carrier posited that coverage was capped at $1 million but the plaintiffs claimed that the policy provided up to $4 million in coverage.  The Sixth Circuit affirmed the decision of the District Court in a published opinion written by Judge Jeffrey Sutton.  The issues on appeal addressed the amount of coverage available under the policy and whether the District Court had diversity jurisdiction to hear the case.  The Sixth Circuit’s ruling clarifies the question of “adverse” parties in determining diversity jurisdiction stating that diversity has to be declared at the time the Complaint is filed, not at a later time.  The court recognized that a party’s position in litigation constantly changes based on factors such as discovery, rulings, and settlements and it makes sense that diversity jurisdiction be determined at the beginning of the case.  The Sixth Circuit also recognized that Kentucky follows a “cause approach” in determining what is considered an “occurrence” under a General Liability insurance policy.  By doing this, it provides clear instructions to courts construing the limits on general liability policies to look at the number of causes of an accident as opposed to how many effects there are.  Mr. Mando successfully argued both of these points in his oral argument at the beginning of August and Ms. Langen provided persuasive briefs for the District Court and Sixth Circuit.  Click here to view the entire published opinion by Judge Sutton.

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