Plaintiff Companion Property and Casualty Insurance Company (“Companion”) participated in a fronted insurance program with Redwood and Freestone. Reinsurance collateral trusts were established for Companion’s benefit and maintained by defendant U.S. Bank as trustee. Companion authorized Redwood and Freestone to administer the trusts’ assets by giving direction to U.S. Bank. One such direction was to authorize certain third-parties who could act for Redwood and Freestone with regard to each trust account. Through the direction of Redwood, Freestone and their authorized third-parties, U.S. Bank made certain investments which were ultimately to the detriment of the trusts. U.S. Bank then made claims against the third-parties for apportionment, contribution and indemnification for its liability to Companion. The third-party defendants moved to dismiss all of U.S. Bank’s claims.
U.S. Bank asserted that third-party defendants are responsible for damages alleged by Plaintiff Companion pursuant to South Carolina Code § 15-38-15 which addresses apportionment of percentages of liability among tortfeasors responsible for less than fifty percent of total fault.
Analyzing South Carolina’s Contribution Among Tortfeasors Act (“SCCATA”), the Court noted that “apportionment” as it appeared in the statute occurred only after the jury “(a) has awarded damages to a plaintiff, (b) has determined any comparative negligence by the plaintiff, and then (c) only after motion by the defendant.” Unlike SCCATA’s statutory language for other causes of action – for example contribution – which described the relief as an action or right to contribution, such verbiage was not present in the provision of SCCATA concerning apportionment. The Court also noted SCCATA referred to “the total percentages of fault attributed to the plaintiff and the defendants must be one hundred percent” – but there was no mention of any fault allocation to third-party defendants. U.S. Bank’s claim for contribution was therefore dismissed.
Companion Property and Casualty Insurance Company v. U.S. Bank National Association, 3:15-cv-01300 (USDC D.S.C. May 27, 2016)