Hayseeds damages ordered against Nationwide

By Kyla Asbury | Sep 6, 2013


MARTINSBURG - A federal judge has ordered Nationwide Insurance to pay Hayseeds damages in a dispute over a pit bull attack.

Boyd S. Faircloth, Tony M. Elliott, Michelle J. Elliott and Allen W. Elliott Sr. were named as defendants in the suit.

On Aug. 13, Nationwide Mutual Fire Insurance Company and the defendants appeared before the court for a damages hearing, according to an Order Regarding Hayseeds Damages, which was filed Aug. 29 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia at Martinsburg.

On June 20, the court entered an order finding the Elliotts had substantially prevailed in their counterclaim to Nationwide's declaratory judgment complaint and were entitled to damages under the doctrine of West Virginia Law established in Hayseeds Inc. v. State Farm Fire & Cas., according to the order.

Those damages include attorneys fees and economic loss caused by delay in a settlement.

On July 15, the Elliotts filed a brief regarding the damages they are seeking and on Aug. 1, Nationwide filed a response and on Aug. 8, the Elliotts filed a reply.

"In Hayseeds, the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals held that: '[w]henever a policyholder substantially prevails in a...suit against its insurer, the insurer is liable for: (1) the insured's reasonably attorney's fees in vindicating its claim; (2) the insured's damages for net economic loss caused by the delay in settlement and damages for aggravation and inconvenience," the order states.

The Elliotts' Motion Regarding Damages was granted in part and denied in part. Specifically, Nationwide shall pay the Elliotts $59,867.21 in attorneys fees and $6,100 in net economic losses. Nationwide's Motion to Certify Question to the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals is denied and Nationwide's Motion to Stay is denied.

On Jan. 10, 2012, Nationwide filed its complaint for declaratory judgment after it claimed it provided homeowners insurance coverage to Tony M. Elliott and Michelle J. Elliott from Dec. 1, 2010, to Dec. 1, 2011.

On April 18, 2011, Faircloth visited the Elliott residence and when Allen W. Elliott Sr. opened the door to greet Faircloth, a mixed-breed dog known as Diver, ran out the door and bit Faircloth on the arm, causing him to fall off the porch, the order says.

On May 6, 2011, Nationwide denied Faircloth's claim for personal injuries arising from the dog bite incident on the grounds that Diver was a pit bull and the homeowner's insurance policy does not provide personal liability coverage or medical payments coverage for bodily injury or property damage arising from the incident.

Nationwide is being represented by Joseph L. Caltrider of Bowles Rice McDavid Graff & Love LLP.

The order was entered by Judge Gina Groh.

U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia at Martinsburg case number: 3:12-cv-4

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