Are Insurers Entitled to a Special Jury Instruction on the "Genuine Dispute" Defense? Maybe not, according to a Recent California Court of Appeal Decision


Insurers who intend to rely on the “genuine dispute” doctrine may not be entitled to a special jury instruction delineating the elements of that defense. At least one appellate court in California has held that whether there was a “genuine dispute” as to coverage, thereby exculpating the insurer from bad faith liability, is subsumed within standard jury instructions as to whether the insurer acted “reasonably,” the linchpin of any bad faith claim. Accordingly, the Second Appellate District in McCoy v. Progressive West Ins. Co., 09 C.D.O.S. 2474, _ Cal. App. 4th _ (February 27, 2009), held that the trial court did not commit prejudicial error in refusing to give that instruction, over the insurer’s objection.

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