“The Corporation shall reimburse the Reinsured or its legal representative promptly for loss against which indemnity is herein provided.” Is this a “follow the fortunes” clause in a reinsurance treaty? Undoubtedly, a federal district court answered on Mass Mutual’s (the cedent) motion for summary judgment against its reinsurer, Employers Reinsurance Corporation. “Nowhere in the Treaty does it state that ERC may question claims once those losses are incurred and paid.” The fact that ERC had a right of joint participation in adjusting the claims did not undermine this conclusion. Mass Mutual retained the right to be the final decision maker in all determinations. The court found additional support in the parties’ thirteen-year course of conduct, inasmuch as during most of that period ERC “consistently and continually” paid out claims without questioning Mass Mutual’s handling of those claims. The court found for Mass Mutual again on the question of whether ERC breached the treaty’s offset provision by withholding disputed reimbursements to Mass Mutual. The provision stated that the parties could offset loss or claim expenses due from one to the other; disputed sums did not count.
As a consolation prize, the court dismissed Mass Mutual’s counterclaim against ERC for violations of the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act: “A simple breach of contract claim is not in and of itself a violation of CUTPA.” The court previously had dismissed other claims that Mass Mutual had asserted, including a claim for breach of fiduciary duty. (See April 24, 2007 post to this blog.) The court essentially brought the dispute down to a simple breach of contract dispute, which was determined based upon the follow the fortunes doctrine. Employers Reinsurance Corporation v. Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company , Case No. 06-0188 (USDC W.D. Mo. Aug. 19, 2008).