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March 2020

Denver Team Secures Summary Judgment in Insurance Bad Faith Matter

Gordon Rees Scully Mansukhani attorneys Katelyn S. Werner, Jack Mann, and Tessa F. Carberry obtained judgment in favor of their client, an insurance carrier, for breach of contract, common law bad faith, and statutory violation of C.R.S. §§ 10-3-1115 and 1116.

The case was brought by two homeowners whose home, located at the bottom of a steep hillside, suffered damage when a large boulder became dislodged from the hillside and crashed into the home causing significant damage. When the homeowners made a claim under their homeowner’s policy, the carrier denied coverage because the policy excluded damage caused by a “landslide” or “any other earth movement.”

The homeowners brought a lawsuit against the carrier for breach of contract, common law bad faith, and statutory violation of C.R.S. §§ 10-3-1115 and 1116, which permits recovery of three times the amount of benefits unreasonably delayed or denied, plus attorneys’ fees and costs.

Werner, Mann, and Carberry moved for summary judgment on the basis that damage from a falling boulder is excluded under the policy’s “earth movement” exclusion. Plaintiffs responded and filed a motion to certify the question to the Colorado Supreme Court. The United States District Court for the District of Colorado found in favor of the carrier because the policy’s earth movement exclusion barred recovery for damages caused by falling rocks or boulders.

As such, the court entered judgment in favor of the insurer on all claims and denied plaintiffs’ motion to certify the question to the Colorado Supreme Court. The case is now on appeal.

Tessa F. Carberry
John R. Mann
Katelyn S. Werner