Admissibility of Expert Opinions in Insurance Bad Faith Trials

Woman sitting before panel

Attorney Dave McLain discusses Hansen Construction v. Everest National Insurance Co.

November 4, 2019
David M. McLain – Colorado Construction Litigation

In 2010, Hansen Construction was sued for construction defects and was defended by three separate insurance carriers pursuant to various primary CGL insurance policies.[i] One of Hansen’s primary carriers, Maxum Indemnity Company, issued two primary policies, one from 2006-2007 and one from 2007-2008. Everest National Insurance Company issued a single excess liability policy for the 2007-2008 policy year, and which was to drop down and provide additional coverage should the 2007-2008 Maxum policy become exhausted. In November 2010, Maxum denied coverage under its 2007-2008 primarily policy but agreed to defend under the 2006-2007 primarily policy. When Maxum denied coverage under its 2007-2008 primary policy, Everest National Insurance denied under its excess liability policy.

In 2016, pursuant to a settlement agreement between Hansen Construction and Maxum, Maxum retroactively reallocated funds it owed to Hansen Construction from the 2006-2007 Maxum primary policy to the 2007-2008 Maxum primary policy, which became exhausted by the payment. Thereafter, Hansen Construction demanded coverage from Everest National, which continued to deny the claim. Hansen Construction then sued Everest National for, among other things, bad faith breach of contract.

In the bad faith action, both parties retained experts to testify at trial regarding insurance industry standards of care and whether Everest National’s conduct in handling Hansen Construction’s claim was reasonable. Both parties sought to strike the other’s expert testimony as improper and inadmissible under Federal Rule of Evidence 702.

Mr. McLain may be contacted at mclain@hhmrlaw.com



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