In January 2011, I wrote a series of posts titled A Wisconsin Policyholder’s Success in a Bad Faith Lawsuit Against Safeco. In the case, the policyholders suffered extensive water and mold damage and filed a claim with Safeco. The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin ruled in favor of the policyholders, finding their losses were covered by the policy and concluding that Safeco acted in bad faith when handling their claim. Safeco appealed the District Court’s decision and today I am writing about the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision.

Safeco did not challenge the district court’s findings of fact. Rather, Safeco argued on appeal that there would not have been coverage if Safeco would have been allowed to rely on the exclusions, so there would not have been a finding of bad faith. Safeco also argued there was no bad faith because the coverage issue was at least "fairly debatable." The Seventh Circuit reviewed the arguments Safeco presented in the underlying trial and found no error with the trial court’s findings of bad faith against Safeco.

A complete copy of the opinion is available here for review.

I would like to congratulate Craig and Nancy Miller and their entire legal team, led by Anthony Murdock, Esq., on this tremendous success.

  • John

    Isn’t Safeco part of Liberty Mutual, who encourages others to “take responsibility” and “do the right thing?” I certainly don’t see any of that in this case.

  • I would like to thank Vivian and the Merlin Law Group as well as the other policy holder advocates that supported us over the course of this case. As advocates for policy holders, we don’t have the access to the resources and professional networks that our opponents have. It was nice to know that others were rooting for us.

    This case is a tremendous victory, not just for the Millers, but for insurance consumers. The significance of this case is that an insurance company must now disclose the terms of its exclusions before a loss, if it wishes to rely on those exclusions. Consequently, I believe that insurers will now provide copies of policy language to prospective customers, this will enable consumers to make an apples-to-apples comparison when shopping for insurance.

    Very truly yours,

    Anthony K. Murdock