Monday, July 26, 2010

No 93A damages for mistaken interpretation of policy

I have been discussing Fundquest Inc. v. Travelers Cas. & Sur. Co., 2010 WL 2223301 (D. Mass.). The United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts held that there was coverage under an employee dishonesty clause of a policy where the human resources department of the company accidentally deposited the bi-monthly salary of the CEO into the bank account of a low-level employee, and such deposits continued after the employee left the company.

The court held that the insurer's denial of part of the claim on the ground that there was no coverage for deposits after the employee left the company was not a breach of Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 93A. Although the court ultimately agreed with the company, the company had been unable to marshal any case law supporting its position on the novel issue, and the one seemingly relevant case arguably pointed in the other direction. "Despite Travelers' ultimately erroneous interpretation of the Bond, the court does not believe that . . . a reasonable insurer could not have deemed the issue one open to reasonable debate, particularly given the court's own struggle to see through the insurance-ese in which the Bond is written."

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