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October 2019

Litigator Jay Morris Prevails on behalf of Insurance Broker Against Claims of Professional Negligence

St. Louis Partner Jay Morris prevailed before an arbitration panel with a unanimous decision in favor of the firm's client, an insurance broker, who was sued by its insured trucking company in plaintiff-friendly Madison County, Illinois Circuit Court. The plaintiff alleged the broker negligently failed to procure insurance coverage necessary for the company to comply with the contractual requirements of its biggest customer. The plaintiff also alleged that it lost profits for three months as a result because its customer would not allow it to transport its goods without the proper insurance coverage. In defending the insurance broker, Morris was able to prove that his client met all of its legal obligations to the plaintiff and that it was not liable for any damages.

Pursuant to the court’s local rules, the case was set for mandatory arbitration on a fast track.  Under Illinois law, an insurance broker owes no duty to its insureds or prospective insureds to advise them concerning their insurance needs or the availability of optional coverages.  Instead, the broker is obligated to use ordinary care and skill to procure the insurance requested by the customer. Through written discovery and the deposition of the plaintiff, Morris obtained admissions from the plaintiff that it had not requested the coverage it alleged the broker failed to procure.  Further, the plaintiff admitted that it relied upon the broker to determine what coverages were necessary to comply with the contractual requirements of its customer.

At the arbitration, Morris elicited these same admissions from the plaintiff on cross-examination as well as testimony that the plaintiff had no history of profits from which a claim of lost profits could be based even in the event of liability. The arbitration panel awarded the plaintiff nothing.

James C. Morris