Three plaintiffs—a subcontractor (HBI), an affiliated entity (Keller Foundations), and their parent (Keller Group)—brought a claim against Zurich, which had issued a liability policy (the Policy) to the Keller Foundations for which HBI was an additional insured. A general contractor (Diaz) sued HBI in one lawsuit and Zurich in another, claiming that Zurich should defend it in the first lawsuit because it was an additional insured under the Policy. Zurich settled the lawsuit by paying Diaz $450,000. Zurich then sought and received reimbursement from Capital, a captive reinsurer owned by plaintiff Keller Group. Claiming that Zurich’s payment to Diaz was not covered by the Policy, plaintiff brought causes of action for breach of contract, breach of the duty of good faith, and declaratory relief. Zurich filed a motion to dismiss all claims, which the trial court granted, and plaintiffs appealed.
The Second Circuit affirmed the dismissal. First, the court found that plaintiffs had not plausibly alleged a breach of the Policy, as Zurich had broad discretion to settle claims and plaintiffs were not directly harmed by Zurich’s decision to settle the claim, even if they had to reimburse Capital for its reimbursement of Zurich. As the court explained, plaintiffs’ payments to Capital did not relate to Zurich’s duties under the Policy, but instead “flow from Capital’s choice to reimburse Zurich under the Reinsurance Agreement, as well as whatever arrangements exist for inter-company reimbursements between Keller Group and its subsidiaries.” Any complaint regarding Capital’s obligation to reimburse Zurich was Capitals’ to make, not Plaintiffs’.
Second, as to the claim for breach of the duty of good faith, the court found that Zurich’s decision to settle the Diaz claim was not arbitrary and unreasonable, and again emphasized that plaintiffs had not plausibly alleged that this decision deprived them of the benefits of the Policy. Finally, the court rejected the request for declaratory relief, finding that plaintiffs had failed to plead any facts demonstrating even a possibility that Zurich’s payment to Diaz would cause the Policy’s $5 million cap to be exhausted and thus cause plaintiffs to lose the benefit of the Policy.
Keller Foundations, LLC et. al v. Zurich American Insurance Company, 18-1280-cv (2d Cir. Dec. 6, 2018)