Fact of Settlement Communications in Underlying Lawsuits is Not Ground for Anti-SLAPP Motion in Subsequent Bad Faith Lawsuit

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A California appeals court ruled that an insurance bad faith lawsuit alleging a variety of claim handling misconduct in defending the insured was not subject to an insurer’s special SLAPP motion to strike.

August 24, 2020
Christopher Kendrick & Valerie A. Moore – Haight Brown & Bonesteel LLP

In Trilogy Plumbing, Inc. v. Navigators Specialty Ins. Co. (No. G057796, filed 5/27/20, ord. pub. 6/18/20), a California appeals court ruled that an insurance bad faith lawsuit alleging a variety of claim handling misconduct in defending the insured was not subject to an insurer’s special Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (SLAPP) motion to strike because, while the alleged acts were generally connected to litigation, they did not include any written or oral statement or writing made in connection with an issue under consideration or review by a judicial body and, therefore, did not constitute protected activity under California’s anti-SLAPP statute.

In Trilogy Plumbing, the policyholder was sued in 33 different construction defect lawsuits, some of which Navigators defended, and others which were denied or had the defense withdrawn. The Navigators’ policies were subject to a $5,000 deductible, and Trilogy alleged that Navigators breached the contracts by “demanding deductible reimbursement amounts greater than the policies’ $5,000 stated deductible, and by seeking reimbursement of ordinary defense fees and expenses as if they were subject to deductible reimbursement,” “claiming a right to seek reimbursement from Trilogy for defense fees and expenses Navigators paid for the benefit of third-party additional insureds,” “providing conflicted defense counsel who took instructions only from Navigators without disclosing conflicts of interest,” “failing to reasonably settle cases and by withdrawing [the] defense as a strategic means of trying to force Trilogy to fund its own settlements,” “misrepresenting its deductible provisions,” “refusing to account for deductible amounts it charges and collects,” and others.

Reprinted courtesy of Christopher Kendrick, Haight Brown & Bonesteel LLP and Valerie A. Moore, Haight Brown & Bonesteel LLP
Mr. Kendrick may be contacted at ckendrick@hbblaw.com
Ms. Moore may be contacted at vmoore@hbblaw.com



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