An insurer represented by Edwards Angell Palmer & Dodge attorneys John Hughes and Julia Ulrich was recently granted summary judgment by the Connecticut Superior Court in a lawsuit involving a claim for uninsured motorist coverage, and also alleging common law and statutory bad faith against the insurer. Bastien v. Elrac, Inc. et al., No. CV 06-5001458 (Conn. Super. September 18, 2009).
The plaintiff was the driver of a taxi cab involved in an accident with a vehicle owned by a rental car company. The rental car company was self-insured but, nevertheless, it denied coverage with regard to the accident because the renter alleged that an unknown and therefore “unauthorized” driver was operating the rental vehicle at the time of the accident. Plaintiff thereafter filed a lawsuit against, among others, the insurer of the taxi cab for uninsured motorist benefits.
The insurer for the taxi cab moved for summary judgment on the ground that the policy’s definition of “uninsured motor vehicle” does not include vehicles owned by a self-insurer. The insurer moved for summary judgment on the common law bad faith count on the basis that there can be no bad faith absent an obligation to provide coverage. The insurer also moved for summary judgment on the common law and statutory bad faith counts on the basis that the plaintiff’s letter of representation to the insurer standing alone did not constitute a “claim” and, because no “claim” was ever made or denied, the insurer could not have wrongfully denied or otherwise wrongfully handled a nonexistent claim in bad faith.
The court granted the insurer’s motion for summary judgment (1) for the reasons stated in the insurer’s summary judgment papers, (2) on the basis set forth in the court’s decision in the companion case of Odena v. Elrac, Inc. et al., which we wrote about here, and (3) on the basis that the plaintiff did not oppose the insurer’s motion.