Plaintiff v. Insurance Company – Equitable Garnishment

Case Type

This was an equitable garnishment action filed against the insurance company of a local bar.  The equitable garnishment action arose from a personal injury claim filed against a bar in Kansas City, Missouri.  The plaintiff in the case was severely injured after he tried to re-enter a bar with a lit cigarette. An employee of the bar stepped in front of him to prevent him from re-entering, and the plaintiff fell back and struck his head.

The insurance company for the bar refused to defendant and indemnify its insured based on an “assault and battery” exclusion commonly found in insurance policies for bars.  Because the insurance company refused to uphold its fiduciary duties to defend and indemnify its insured, our law firm proposed entering into a 537.065 agreement which limited the recovery to any collectable insurance.

velvet-dog-interiorAfter the judgment, we filed an equitable garnishment action pursuant to § 379.200, RSMo.  The insurance company tried to divest the Missouri state courts of jurisdiction by filing a declaratory judgment action in federal court.  The district court abstained from exercising jurisdiction over the case and dismissed the declaratory judgment action based on the pending equitable garnishment action.

The insurance company had resorted to its last line of defense in the equitable garnishment action and alleged the judgment for the personal injury action was obtained by fraud.  Several motions for summary judgment had been filed, but the parties resolved the case through mediation before the court ruled on any of the motions.

This case is the perfect example of why it is important to have experienced insurance coverage counsel. Through the proper use of 537.065 agreements and the equitable garnishment statutes, our firm obtained a recovery for the client despite the insurance company’s refusal to pay.  We were also able to protect the financial interest of the bar, something the insurance company should have been doing had it not been more interested in protecting its own financial interests.

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Past results afford no guarantee of future results and every case is different and must be judged on its own merits.

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