Case Dealing With Servicing Company's Liability In Tort
In Storebrand Ins. Co. U.K., Ltd. v. Employers Ins. of Wausau, 974 F. Supp. 1005 (S.D. Tex. 1997), aff'd, 139 F.3d 1052 (5th Cir. 1998), a lawsuit was filed by an employee against his joint employers, TDI and Stafftek.
Wausau agreed to defend the joint employers. See Storebrand, 974 F. Supp. at 1007.
During mediation, the employee made a settlement demand of $ 500,000, the limit of Wausau's policy. See id..
Wausau decided to offer only $ 300,000 based on the attorney's evaluation of the case. See id.
TDI demanded that Wausau increase its offer to $ 500,000. See id.
When Wausau refused, TDI turned to its comprehensive general liability insurer, Storebrand Insurance, who paid the additional $ 200,000, but reserved its right to seek indemnification from Wausau. See id.
As TDI's subrogee, Storebrand brought suit seeking indemnification, asserting claims for breach of the duty of good faith and fair dealing and violations of the DTPA and Insurance Code. See Storebrand, 974 F. Supp. at 1007-1008.
The court held that Wausau could not be liable for a breach of the duty of good faith and fair dealing because it was merely the servicing company for the Texas Workers' Compensation Facility, and, based on established precedent, an employer insured through the facility has no cause of action against a servicing company for breach of the duty of good faith and fair dealing. See Storebrand, 974 F. Supp. at 1009.
The court noted that Wausau would not be liable in tort, i.e., for violations of the DTPA and Insurance Code, for challenging a claim of coverage if there was any reasonable basis for denial of that coverage. See id.
The court found a reasonable basis existed for Wausau to offer a maximum of $ 300,000 based on its attorney's evaluation of the claim. See id.
The court concluded that the evidence showed that Wausau investigated the claim and performed a reasonable analysis and valuation of it. See id.