Attorneys Obtain MSJ on Statute of Limitations Argument
Feb 16, 2023
Attorneys Mark Kressenberg, Mary-Ellen King, and Benjamin Ritz obtained a motion for summary judgment in the Southern District of Texas on a statute of limitations argument between our client, Liberty Mutual Insurance Company, and a policyholder.
A Liberty Mutual Insurance Company policyholder had a rental property that was “gutted and ransacked,” and the policyholder, Bruce Allegar, filed an insurance claim. Liberty Mutual ultimately denied the claim in 2017, and Bruce Allegar brought suit for $93,362.41 for repair costs, ongoing lost rental costs of $103,500, interest, and attorney’s fees in 2021. However, the policy’s “Suits Against Us” provision required any legal action to be brought within two years and one day and Allegar filed his suit too late.
Allegar asserted that Liberty Mutual impliedly took actions inconsistent with denial, restarting the statute of limitations clock, including (1) mailing him a copy of his actual policy, showing coverage definitions and exclusions, on May 24, 2018; (2) sending an adjuster to inspect the Albacore House again on September 19, 2018; and (3) engaging in mediation with Plaintiff to settle his claims on June 13, 2019.
The Southern District of Texas court agreed with our briefing that none of these actions restarted the clock on the statute of limitations. The Court denied Allegar’s first point on sending the policy for lack of authority or reason. The Court denied Allegar’s second point regarding the reinspection because an insurer may review additional information without resetting the limitations period. The Court denied Allegar’s third point regarding mediation because Liberty did not take any action to change its position, such as paying anything on the claim.
Accordingly, the Court held that the contractual statute of limitations period started on the date of the denial letter and barred Allegar’s untimely lawsuit.