When Genuine Issues Argue Against a Genuine Dispute


A. Introduction.

During 2002, the federal courts published two important decisions concerning the genuine dispute doctrine: Amadeo v. Principal Mut. Life Ins. Co. (9th Cir. 2002) 290 F.3d 1152 and Hubka v. The Paul Revere Life Ins. Co. (S.D.Cal. 2002) 215 F.Supp.2d 1089. Both deal with the genuine dispute doctrine in a disability insurance bad faith setting. Both reversed trial court grants of summary adjudication on bad faith claims and restored punitive damages.

The good news about Amadeo and Hubka is they signal a reaffirmation by the Ninth Circuit that reasonable conduct in insurance claims handling is best evaluated by the trier of fact. With genuine dispute doctrine summary adjudication motions the current defense d’jour, practitioners need to remind trial courts that the same circuit that created the genuine dispute defense with Guyton, Franceschi and Guebara has declared:

[A]n insurer is not entitled to summary judgment as a matter of law where, viewing the facts in the light most favorable to the plaintiff, a jury could conclude that the insurer acted unreasonably.

Hubka, supra, 215 F.Supp.2d 1089, 1092 (quoting Amadeo, supra, 290 F.3d at 1161-62) (emphasis added).

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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