Thursday, June 25, 2009

State Farm v. Langan

In State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co. v. Langan, 55 A.D.3d 281 (2d Dep't, 2008), the Appellate Division, 2d Department, held that, regarding no-fault benefits, a loss is "accidental" where the incident is "unexpected, unusual and unforeseen" from the point of view of the injured person. Generally speaking, this struck a blow against insurers who seek to disclaim coverage where only one person intentionally caused the loss. Thus, for example, where insurers previously sought to disclaim no-fault coverage for an occupant of a vehicle that was intentionally struck (but where said occupant played no role in the scheme), Langan provides that such a disclaimer would be invalid. The disclaimer would only be appropriate where the insurer can demonstrate that the injured person in question was a party to the intentional conduct.

It thus bears noting that, on June 11, 2009, the Court of Appeals dismissed State Farm's further appeal in that matter. See State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co. v. John Robert Langan,etc., 2009 NYSlipOp 74754 (Ct. of App., 2009), which dismissed the appeal sua sponte on the basis that the App. Div.'s order "does not finally determine the action within the meaning of the Constitution." As a result, the App. Div.'s holding will apparently remain settled law (at least in the 2d Dep't) for the foreseeable future.

Practitioners citing to Langan in briefs may consider noting in the citation that the appeal was dismissed (e.g., State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co. v. Langan, 55 A.D.3d 281 (2d Dep't, 2008), app. dismissed, 2009 NYSlipOp 74754 (Ct. of App., 2009)).