Supreme Court 11.19.09

While there’s been exciting city-related news elsewhere, things have been a bit slow on the municipal law court opinion beat.  Today’s no different.  The Supreme Court grants review of what’s really an insurance-coverage case involving the City of Grant.  The question is whether a partial settlement with an employee retaining the ability to claim on “excess liability” coverage eliminates vicarious liability for the employer if it turns out that the “excess liability” coverage doesn’t apply.  The Court of Appeals answered no, reasoning: a) in past cases, these Drake releases have not served to dismiss the employee/driver from the suit, even if the excess carrier disputes coverage; b) thus, the City remains responsible for the claims made against the driver in excess of $50,000, either by vicarious liability or its stautory duty to indemnify the firefighter; and c) the release limits recovery from the firefighter to the “excess liability” coverage (actually held by the City), but is silent about recovery from the City.  If you’re of the mind that writers resort to italics to dress up weak arguments, then you’re not going to like this opinion.  Points (b) and (c) are supported by little more than font-enhanced parsing of the release document, and are probably the areas of focus for the Supreme Court in its review.

Insurance coverage – so boring, yet so powerful.


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