A federal appeals court has upheld a lower court ruling in favor of a Great American Insurance Group. Unity in a dispute with a real estate company over compensation for an injured worker.
The plaintiff’s attorney on the case said the three-judge panel of the US 9th Court of Appeals in San Francisco ignored a policy change his client was unaware of.
Great American E & S Insurance Co., a unit of the Great Cincinnati Insurance Group headquartered in Cincinnati, had a joint insurance policy for Lancaster, California-based Lance Campers Manufacturing Co. and Lancaster-based J & J Realty Holdings U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco at J & J Realty Holdings v Great American E & S Insurance Co.
The policy included an employer’s disclaimer prohibiting cover for personal injury claims filed by an “employee of an insured person” under the ruling.
When a Lance employee was injured in the parking lot, he sued both J&J and Lance. Great American denied coverage to both policyholders on the basis that the employee was an employee of an “policyholder”.
J & J filed a lawsuit in the US District Court in Pasadena, California, which ruled in favor of the insurer. The decision was upheld by a unanimous appellate court with three judges in Friday’s decision.
“For threshold reasons, the employer’s disclaimer originally prohibited cover for personal injury claims filed by an employee of the insured. That language was changed by a note replacing “the insured” with “any insured”.
“That language was changed with a note replacing ‘the insured’ with ‘any insured’. J & J is contesting the enforceability of this note for the first time on appeal, but we come to the conclusion that the note was sufficiently clear and deliberate enough to be valid, ”the judgment confirmed the decision of the lower court.
J & J’s attorney Stephen E. Young, a senior attorney at Theodora Oringher PC in Los Angeles, said J & J originally owned Lance but sold it to another company.
He said Great American changed the wording of the policy upon renewal to exclude coverage for J&J in the event, changing the policy’s exclusion to say “Any Insured” without the company properly reporting the change to inform. He said the 9th circuit did not address this issue in the statement.
“California law requires you to post any material change in reporting,” he said.
Great American attorneys did not respond to a request for comment.