Appeal court reduced punitive damages award against a disability insurer

Long term disability insurer's appeal of a punitive damages award of $500,000 allowed in part. The Court of Appeal upheld the finding of entitlement to punitive damages but reduced the punitive damages award to $60,000.

Industrial Alliance Insurance and Financial Services Inc. v. Brine, [2015] N.S.J. No. 486, November 17, 2015, Nova Scotia Court of Appeal, J.E. Fichaud, L.L. Oland and J.E. Scanlan JJ.A.

Appeal court reduced punitive damages award against a disability insurer

Long term disability insurer's appeal of a punitive damages award of $500,000 allowed in part. The Court of Appeal upheld the finding of entitlement to punitive damages but reduced the punitive damages award to $60,000.

Industrial Alliance Insurance and Financial Services Inc. v. Brine, [2015] N.S.J. No. 486, November 17, 2015, Nova Scotia Court of Appeal, J.E. Fichaud, L.L. Oland and J.E. Scanlan JJ.A.

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This was a summary trial pursuant to s. 530 of the Insurance Act for judgment against the defendant's insurer. The insurer argued the farm policy was void ab initio because of non‑disclosure of a material fact or, in the alternative, the "business pursuits" exclusion clause applied. The Court dismissed the plaintiff's action because the "business pursuits" exclusion excluded coverage. The plaintiff was injured in the course of a horse riding lesson that was a "business pursuit" of the defendant insured.

Burch v. Intact Insurance Co., [2014] A.J. No. 540, May 20, 2014, Alberta Court of Queen's Bench, S.J. Greckol J.

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The insurer had separate policies of insurance with the plaintiff and the defendant. The plaintiffs argued that because they were also policy holders with the insurer, the insurer owed them a duty of good faith and fair dealing and the insurer was obliged to settle the plaintiffs' action against the defendants. The plaintiffs' action against the insurer was dismissed because the insurer owed no duty to the plaintiffs simply because the plaintiffs had an insurance policy with the insurer.

Sweet v. Sweet, [2014] S.J. No. 84, January 27, 2014, Saskatchewan Court of Queen's Bench, R.C. Mills J.

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An insurer's application for summary judgment was dismissed as the court could not determine the limitation period for a claim alleging bad faith.

Redden v. Manufacturers Life Insurance Co., [2013] N.B.J. No. 309, October 4, 2013, New Brunswick Court of Queen's Bench, P.C. Garnett J.

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In reasons focusing on the need for deterrence, punitive damages awards of $1,500,000 and $3,000,000 were made against two insurers respectively. The court also awarded aggravated damages of $150,000 and $300,000 against each insurer respectively for breaching the peace of mind contracts.

Branco v. American Home Assurance Co., [2013] S.J. No. 151, March 21, 2013, Saskatchewan Court of Queen's Bench, M.D. Acton J.

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An insurer was found to have breached the duty of good faith when it decided to terminate benefits without any factual or legal grounds despite no damages actually occuring because benefits were reinstated before they were actually terminated.

Saskatchewan Government Insurance v. Wilson, [2012] S.J. No. 832, November 13, 2012, Saskatchewan Court of Appeal, W.J. Vancise, R.K. Ottenbriet and N.W. Caldwell JJ.A.

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An action for bad faith may be severed from the underlying action disputing entitlement to insurance benefits.

Insurer's application for bifurcation of bad faith claim granted.

Cort v. Insurance Corp. of British Columbia, [2011] B.C.J. No. 853, May 5, 2011, British Columbia Supreme Court, Master P. Keighley

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$50,000 awarded in punitive damages for refusing to pay a fire loss because of suspected arson.

An action by insureds to recover the proceeds from a fire insurance policy from their insurer after a fire, as well as aggravated and punitive damages for the insurer's refusal to pay. The action was allowed.

Sidhu v. Wawanesa Mutual Insurance Co. [2011] B.C.J. No. 1573, August 17, 2011, British Columbia Supreme Court, T.C. Armstrong J.

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Bad faith claims may be severed from the underlying entitlement action.

Defendant’s application to sever a bad faith claim from a claim for breach of contract.  Application granted.

Nayyar v. Manufacturers Life Insurance Co., [2010] B.C.J. No. 2200, October 7, 2010, British Columbia Supreme Court, P.W. Walker J. (in Chambers)

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