Dobbas v. Vittas: Excess Liability Insurer Not Permitted to Intervene in Insurance Agent Malpractice Case To Pursue Equitable Subrogation Against the Agent


In a published decision in Dobbas v. Vitas (California Court of Appeal, Third Appellate District), the California Court of Appeal addressed the right of an excess insurance carrier to intervene in a insurance agent malpractice action for the purpose of seeking equitable subrogation against the agent. To the relief of the agent, intervention was not allowed.

A bull had escaped from a rancher’s property and caused a fatal automobile accident on a nearby road. The victims filed suit against the rancher, and it was discovered that the rancher’s insurance agent had either cancelled or failed to renew one of the rancher’s excess insurance policies which may have provided coverage for the incident. Accordingly, the rancher filed a complaint for malpractice against the insurance agent for failing to procure the excess policy.

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