The Genuine Dispute Doctrine Is Alive and Well in California


Plaintiffs’ lawyers have been celebrating the California Supreme Court’s decision in Wilson v. 21st Century Ins. Co., 42 Cal. 4th 713 (2007), which clarified how courts should apply California’s "genuine dispute doctrine" on summary judgment. Some practitioners have gone so far as to claim that, after Wilson, the doctrine is dead. Not so. As the saying goes, reports of the genuine dispute doctrine’s death have been greatly exaggerated.

The "genuine dispute doctrine" is a creation of California case law. It holds that insurers do not act in bad faith as a matter of law if there is a genuine dispute regarding whether the insured’s claim is payable.

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