If It's Covered by Insurance, We've Probably Handled It
We represent policyholders, not insurance companies, in all types of insurance coverage disputes — fire, property, life, disability, fidelity, employment practices, and casualty. Rutter & Russin is often brought into complex liability cases to assess the insurance coverage issues so that both the plaintiff and the defendant know what funds are potentially available to satisfy a judgment.
Declaratory judgments against insureds
An insurance company, even while defending its insured, may bring a separate lawsuit against its own insured called a declaratory judgment. These are brought in order to try and obtain a court ruling that the insurance company has no further duty to defend or indemnify its insured.
The lawyer hired by the insurance company to defend you in the underlying lawsuit cannot represent you in the declaratory judgment lawsuit, but we can.
In responding to a declaratory judgment action, "one size does not fit all." We can explain your options and help you make the decision that is best for you.
Rutter & Russin has almost 30 years experience helping policyholders successfully resolve their insurance coverage disputes.
A family insured its show horse for its $150,000 value. The horse had to be put down because of persistent leg problems, and the family expected its insurer to honor the claim. They were surprised when the insurer denied the claim, pointing to an application in which the insureds had supposedly claimed that the horse had no pre-existing leg issues. Rutter & Russin established that the error was the agent's fault, and the claim resolved without a lawsuit.
The insured found us through this web site. He operated a northern Ohio chinchilla farm, and hundreds of his animals had died when the power went out to one of the buildings where the chinchillas were housed, causing the animals to suffocate from lack of ventilation. He had called in the claim to his insurer and it had only taken them two days to deny the claim because there was ostensibly no proof the power interruption was caused by a mechanical malfunction — the only arguable covered cause of loss. Rutter & Russin hired an electrician and an engineer, who pinpointed the cause of loss as a defective wire, which caused a motor to short out — a mechanical malfunction. The insurer finally accepted this conclusion, but then argued that the policy limited coverage for farm animals to $5,000. Once again, Rutter & Russin proved them wrong, and the insurer ended up paying its $100,000 policy limits.
A man who was convicted of raping an 11-year-old girl spent 28 years in prison before being cleared by DNA evidence. He brought suit against the governmental entity that had prosecuted him, prompting an insurance coverage dispute between the governmental entity and the dozens of different insurance companies that had insured the governmental entity since the time of the conviction. Rutter & Russin was hired to pursue the various coverage arguments against all potentially liable insurers, leading to a settlement of the underlying wrongful incarceration lawsuit with minimal contribution from the insured.
The story was splashed across the front page of the local paper — an employee of a nursing home had confessed to sexually abusing several elderly and incapacitated patients. The relatives of the abused patients were understandably upset, and sued the nursing home, which turned to its insurance carrier for protection. The insurance company, however, also filed suit against the nursing home, asserting that its policies did not cover sexual abuse. Not knowing where to turn, the owner of the nursing home came to us. Rutter & Russin challenged the insurance company's coverage position, eventually resulting in a settlement that resolved all claims against the nursing home.
A Fortune 500 company needed coverage help when its medical excess insurer refused to reimburse it for over $500,000 in medical bills resulting from the hospital stays of two badly injured employees. Rutter & Russin filed suit in federal court, and, following several lengthy depositions of the involved parties, convinced the insurance company to honor the vast majority of the claim.
An employee of a bank erroneously authorized the deposit of millions of dollars worth of checks into an unauthorized account. It was forced to reimburse its customer for the loss, and then turned to its fidelity insurer for reimbursement. When the carrier refused, cited certain technical defenses, Rutter & Russin filed suit and forced a settlement favorable to the bank.
A hotel in Tennessee suffered a major fire. The hotel owner did not have a fire sprinkler system, and never had. However, the policy required, as a condition of coverage, that the insured "maintain" a sprinkler system. Consequently, the insurer refused to pay the claim until Rutter & Russin became involved. We resolved this case for full value by convincing the insurance company that, as a matter of policy interpretation, the insured could not "maintain" what it did not have.