News & Events
| On January 23, 2018, Angela Higgins testified before the Missouri House Committee on Insurance Policy in support of House Bill 1406, to repeal Missouri's equitable garnishment statute, Mo. Rev. Stat. 379.200.
| Baker Sterchi Cowden & Rice is pleased to announce the promotion of John Patterson to Member effective January 1, 2018. Patterson practices in the areas of product liability, employment, construction/fidelity and surety, financial services litigation, premises liability...
| On February 28, 2017, Angela Higgins testified before the Missouri House Committee on Insurance Policy in support of House Bill 784, to repeal Missouri's equitable garnishment statute, Mo. Rev. Stat. 379.200.
| Thomas Rice is serving as co-chair of the upcoming program ”Enlightening The EPL/PL World” jointly hosted by ALFA International’s Insurance Law, Labor & Employment, and Professional Liability Practice Groups. A Steering Committee Member of the Insurance Law, Professional Liability and Labor & Employment Practice Groups, Mr. Rice is serving as co-chair on behalf of the Insurance Practice Group...
| Thomas Rice will moderate a panel on cyber liability and data breaches in the workforce and related legal and ethical considerations for in-house counsel, corporate risk management and law firms. Panel members feature representatives from three different insurance companies with cyber liability expertise plus an attorney from ALFA International’s Los Angeles, California member firm...
| Thomas Rice is serving as course book editor for the insurance track of the upcoming program "Enlightening the EPL/PL World" jointly hosted by ALFA International's Insurance Law, Labor & Employment, and Professional Liability Practice Groups.
| Scott Kreamer will serve as the Dean of the Litigation Management College which takes place at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, June 9-13. . .
| Thomas Rice is the program co-chair for the June 2012 ALFA seminar to be jointly sponsored by the Insurance, Professional Liability and Labor & Employment practice groups.
| Tom Rice is a contributing editor for the Missouri, Illinois and Kansas chapters of the 2010 DRI Insurance Bad Faith Compendium. Also, Tom is a contributing editor for the Missouri chapter of the 2010 PLAC Jury Instruction Handbook.
BSCR successfully defended a bad faith insurance claim in Missouri state court. Mediated shortly before trial, we evaluated the settlement value of the claim at $225,000 and offered that amount at the mediation. Prior to mediation...
BSCR’s health insurer client was sued in Missouri state court in 2011, by a plaintiff who suffered injuries in a car accident. Plaintiff was a federal government employee, whose insurance program fell under the Federal Employees Health Benefits Act (FEHBA), a statute with
BSCR obtained a favorable appellate ruling affirming summary judgment for our insurer client in an uninsured motorist coverage case. In that case, an employee’s claim against his co-employee was excluded from the liability policy’s coverage.
BSCR received a judgment in favor of our client, Western Surety, following a bench trial in Ray County, Missouri. The claim involved a contractual dispute over an indemnity agreement. The court issued a lengthy opinion and awarded our client the full amount requested. . .
BSCR obtained summary judgment in the Circuit Court of Jackson County, Missouri in a $1 million declaratory judgment and equitable contribution action brought against an insurance client (the professional liability E&O insurer for an elevator inspector whose negligent inspection of a grain mill manlift resulted in the death of a firefighter) by another insurer (the CGL insurer for the elevator inspector). The summary judgment in favor of our client was affirmed on appeal.
BSCR's defense of a notary in a Clay County, Missouri action resulted in summary judgment in favor of our client, the fidelity and surety insurer of the notary. In this case, plaintiff sought to recover under a notarial bond issued by our client to insure faithful performance of its principal, a notary. . .
The Eighth Circuit affirmed entry of summary judgment in favor of an insurance client in a Kansas City federal court case. The Eighth Circuit found that the federal court did not err in concluding that the agreement in question had a "follow-the-settlements" provision; did not err in finding another state's six-year limitations period barred plaintiff's challenges to claims submitted by defendant; nor did it err in finding the statute had not been tolled. . .
BSCR defended the insured of an insurance client in a week-long trial in Jackson County (Independence), Missouri. The case involved allegations of vehicular negligence and road rage. . .
| In a recent decision, the Missouri Supreme Court for the first time considered the meaning and application of a pollution exclusion in a commercial general liability policy, landing unanimously on the side of the insurance company in favor of denying coverage to the insured.
| The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, in Donaldson v. Nat’l Union Fire Ins. Co. of Pittsburg, recently upheld the denial of benefits under an ERISA-governed insurance policy because the plan administrator’s interpretation of the disputed policy language was found to be reasonable.
| On July 5, 2017, Missouri Governor Greitens signed legislation that substantially reforms insurance bad faith litigation by amending Mo. Rev. Stat. § 537.065, and enacting a new statute, Mo. Rev. Stat. § 537.068. This article addresses the specific changes and their effective dates.
| The United States Supreme Court ruled on May 22, 2017, that the Hague Convention, on the service of judicial documents abroad, permits service by mail if the receiving country has not objected to service by mail and service by mail is authorized under otherwise-applicable law.
| The Missouri legislature has recently voted to overhaul Mo. Rev. Stat. § 537.065, in legislation that Governor Greitens is expected to sign. Sweeping changes that should significantly reform bad faith litigation are in store.
| The Florida Supreme Court recently ruled that the attorney-client privilege protects a party from being required to disclose that her attorney referred her to treating doctors.
| Earlier this week, Governor Eric Greitens signed Missouri HB 153 into law. HB 153, which supplants Missouri’s existing expert witness standard with that set forth in Federal Rules of Evidence 702, 703, 704 and 705, effectively submits expert testimony in most civil and criminal case to the analysis set forth in Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 509 U.S. 579 (1993).
| Within a two-week period, two federal judges issued strongly worded orders denouncing the common practice of asserting boilerplate objections to written discovery.
| The Missouri Court of Appeals rules that a worker may owe an independent duty of care to a co-worker, which is separate and distinct from her employer’s non-delegable duties.
| A Missouri plaintiff did not irrevocably waive the protections of the work product doctrine simply by designating an expert witness and then withdrawing the designation without disclosing the expert’s analysis or conclusions.
| On May 23, 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court decided the case of Green v. Brennan in order to resolve a split among the Circuits on whether, in an action for constructive discharge, the 45-day limitation period for the employee to initiate contact with the EEOC begins to run after the employer’s last discriminatory act, or at the time of the employee’s resignation.
| The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that a commercial general liability policy (CGL) may cover a data breach, at least for the purposes of a duty to defend. In a case involving the publication of private medical records on the internet, the federal appellate court agreed with the lower federal district court in Virginia that coverage included in a CGL for personal and advertising injury applied.
| Recently, privacy, data breaches, and cyber security issues have taken center stage in the media. In the event of a data breach, a company faces a multitude of expenses both internally and externally including but not limited to investigation, business loss, and remediation. Companies are responding to the risk of data breach events, in part, by seeking insurance coverage.
| In the case of Katina Piatt, et al. v. Indiana Lumberman’s Mutual Insurance Company, et al., SC 94364, the Supreme Court of Missouri affirmed summary judgment in favor of Indiana Lumberman’s Mutual Insurance Company, based on a policy exclusion that the plaintiffs unsuccessfully alleged was ambiguous, and should have been interpreted in their favor.
| Three separate class actions have been filed in Missouri challenging how depreciation is used in calculating the actual cash value of property damage under homeowners and commercial property insurance policies.
| It has long been thegeneral rule in Missouri that for a party to contractually release itself from or limit liability for its own future negligence, the language in the contract must be clear, unequivocal, conspicuous and must explicitly include the word “negligence” or “fault.” However, when the contract is negotiated at arm’s length between “sophisticated commercial entities”, a party can release itself from or limit liability with less precise language.
| The Eighth Circuit recently analyzed the application of the “outside sales” and “administrative” exemptions under the Fair Labor Standards Act in the context of promotional workers. Also, the Court was asked to decide, for the first time, what constitutes a valid waiver of an employee’s rights under the FLSA.
| A defendant removing a case to federal court under the Class Action Fairness Act need not provide evidence proving the jurisdictional amount in controversy in the notice of removal. A “short and plain statement of the grounds for removal” is sufficient.
| The bad faith environment in Missouri is generally hostile to carriers, with marked movement toward plaintiffs in the last ten years. The Missouri Supreme Court has now issued a ruling in Scottsdale Ins. v. Addison Ins. Co., Case No. SC93792 (on transfer from the Western District Court of Appeals) which will have a significant, and generally negative, impact on the landscape of bad faith liability in Missouri.
| Individuals and businesses relying upon contractors to provide labor services may be exposing themselves to liability if these contractors fail to pay their employees in accordance with the Missouri Minimum Wage Law.
| K.S.A. 60-19a02 has been amended, increasing Kansas's long-standing cap on non-economic damages (pain and suffering) recoverable in personal injury. K.S.A. 60-456(b) has also been amended to mirror the requirements for the admissibility of expert testimony set forth in Fed. R. Evid. 702.
| A man who sued his former employer, alleging he was discharged in retaliation for filing a workers' compensation claim, appealed on the basis that the trial court used a jury instruction with the wrong standard. In a 5-2 decision written by Judge George W. Draper III, the Missouri Supreme Court rejected the 'exclusive causation' standard and replaced it with the "contributing factor" standard. On remand and in future cases, the jury must determine whether the plaintiff's filing of a workers' compensation claim was a "contributing factor" to his or her discharge.
| Based on its adoption of a statutory scheme of comparative negligence, Kansas has abolished common law assumption of the risk as a bar to recovery. Simmons v. Porter, 298 Kan. 299, 312 P3d 345, 355 (Kan. 2013).
| The plaintiff has the burden of proving standing, which is a jurisdictional issue that can be raised at any time.
| Even under a "potential liability" standard, there is no liability coverage for a settlement where the applicable law does not recognize the claim as a viable cause of action.
| In Kansas, the parties bind themselves to an enforceable settlement, even though the parties contemplate subsequent execution of a formal instrument. However, when the parties specifically condition a contract on it being reduced to writing and signed, there is no enforceable contract until such act is accomplished.
| The high court is expected to resolve a circuit split on whether the owners of privately held secular companies, who oppose offering contraception-related benefits on religious grounds, may challenge these mandatory coverage requirements under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act
| A reservation of rights letter informs the insured of the carrier's potential defenses to coverage under the policy. The following is a brief overview of some of the requirements for ROR letters in Kansas.
| New Missouri laws taking effect on August 28, 2013 will allow the creation of "rent-a-captive" insurers and revise existing captive insurance laws to be more favorable to captive formation. This marks an aggressive move by Missouri to muscle in on the captive insurance market.
| A reservation of rights letter informs the insured of the carrier's potential defenses to coverage under the policy. The following is a brief overview of some of the requirements for ROR letters in Missouri. As always, please contact a licensed and qualified attorney for recommendations specific to your circumstances. . .
| On April 16, the Missouri Court of Appeals for the Eastern District reinstated a jury verdict against Certain Underwriters at Lloyd's of London for $62.5 million under various excess liability policies issued to Doe Run Resources Corporation ("Doe Run"), a lead mining and smelting company operating in St. Francois County, Missouri, related to environmental remediation efforts by the company.
| Auto liability carriers often field claims by one employee of an insured policyholder against another employee. It has long been a rule in Missouri that one employee is not liable to the other except for intentional conduct or. . .
| This is the fourth and final post in our series about Missouri's equitable garnishment statute. As discussed in our prior posts on this topic, § 379.200 is currently applied in circumstances never intended by the legislature or the early case law, contrary to well-established fundamentals of equity jurisprudence, and with tremendous burdens falling primarily upon auto liability insurers who operate in the state. . .
| Aside from the technical and traditional objections to allowing a proceeding in equity where garnishment at law is appropriate, Missouri's equitable garnishment statute imposes a number of burdens upon insurers and insureds alike. As discussed in our prior posts on this topic, the current state of practice with respect to Missouri's equitable garnishment statute is inconsistent with both the legislative intent and the early history of opinions construing the statute, and today we will explore some of the unnecessary harm that results from more recent jurisprudence. . .
| Equity is a jurisprudential concept brought to America by the English colonists, and traces its roots and defining principles back centuries to the time when the King or Queen of England ruled over the courts at law, and the church administered justice in equity. The fundamental premise of equity is that an equitable remedy will not be available if the plaintiff has a cause of action at law. . .
| Imagine the intrepid archaeologist who reaches through a century's worth of cobwebs to grab a long-sought relic, only to be chased from the temple by a rolling stone ball of doom. You will have some appreciation for the absurdity of Missouri's equitable garnishment action, a curious relic of an era that predates modern insurance law, and which is fraught with peril for insurers. . .