Misrepresentation and Non-Cooperation Operate to Bar Coverage
January 28, 2011
In a recent NJ Appellate case, plaintiffs Inchon, L.L.C., Russian Radio Network, L.L.C., and WRBS Radio Ethnic Media Partners MVI (collectively "Inchon" or "plaintiffs") appeal from the dismissal of their complaint on a summary judgment motion by defendants The Hartford Fire Insurance Company and The Hartford Insurance Company of the Midwest (collectively "Hartford" or "defendants").
On October 10, 2005, an alleged burglary occurred at the Inchon’s location, during which a significant number of servers and encoders were stolen. Inchon subsequently filed a police report and claims under its Hartford policies. Hartford undertook an investigation of the claims, and discovered that Inchon had made a misrepresentation when asked whether the company had made any other prior insurance claims. It was discovered that in 2003, Inchon made a claim with their previous insurer, Traveles Insurance, that was denied when it was determined that the claim was fraudulent.
After Hartford denied Inchon’s claim, Inchon filed suit against Hartford seeking coverage for the allegedly stolen equipment. Hartford moved for summary judgment and argued that Inchon breached the terms of the insurance agreement by misrepresenting that it had not filed a previous insurance claim with Travelers and failing to cooperate with the investigation.
The appellate court found no evidence that the misrepresentation was a mere oversight or mistake, and concluded that Hartford was justified in the denial of coverage. Further, Inchon’s abstract statement that "Inchon cooperated fully and to the best of [its] ability" was insufficient to overcome Hartford's evidence demonstrating the contrary. "[I]t explains nothing when compared to the voluminous information in terms of questions asked and the examination under oath, the follow up letters and correspondence." The granting of summary judgment was affirmed.
Thanks to Sheila Osei for her contribution to this post.