This controversy involved a reinsurance dispute between ERC, a reinsurer, and Laurier, an insurer incorporated in Bermuda. ERC declined to indemnify Laurier for the settlement costs of a wrongful death suit. The present matter came before the court on the parties’ motions for reconsideration of a magistrate’s rulings on the parties’ cross-motions for summary judgment.
ERC moved for summary judgment based on Laurier’s failure to provide prompt notice of the claim, and contended that the delay was unreasonable as a matter of law and that it suffered prejudice as a result. ERC also claimed entitlement to partial summary judgment because “follow the fortunes” clauses are not implied in reinsurance contracts.
The reinsurance contracts at issue did not contain a “follow-the fortunes” clause. Laurier argued that the absence of the clause constituted an ambiguity in the contract and that the Court should allow custom to imply the clause into the reinsurance contract. The court disagreed, concluding that it could not “go outside the laws of contract construction and outside the four corners of an unambiguous contract to add a clause that was not bargained for.” As such, the court granted partial summary judgment for ERC on the issue of the “follow the fortunes” clause.
The court denied summary judgment on the remaining issues, including allocation of loss, waiver of the late notice defense, and the timeliness of the notice, finding that genuine issues of material fact existed as to those issues. ERC v. Laurier Indemnity Co., Case No. 8:03-cv-1650 (M.D. Fla. June 25, 2007). [The choice of law dispute in this case was addressed in an earlier posting on this blog on June 16, 2006.]