CHARLESTON — The West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals ruled that a lower court correctly applied the law in a case against Farmers and Mechanics Insurance Companies.
“The Court has considered the parties’ briefs and the record on appeal,” the June 17 opinion states. “The facts and legal arguments are adequately presented, and the decisional process would not be significantly aided by oral argument.”
Maurice Dosso appealed two orders of Berkeley Circuit Court. In a June 29, 2017, order, the circuit court awarded summary judgment to Farmers and Mechanics Insurance Companies, Foster Sirbaugh and Lauren Voglesong in a case alleging a breach of an insurance contract, bad faith and intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress.
In an earlier order, entered May 1, 2017, the circuit court adopted a discovery commissioner’s recommendation that one-half of the commissioner’s fees and costs be borne by Dosso, an indigent party.
Between Oct. 6, 2014, and Oct. 5, 2015, Dosso insured a 2000 Ford Expedition with Farmers. On Dec. 22, 2014, Dosso reported a loss to Farmers, claiming water leaked into his vehicle and damaged the computer and electrical systems, causing it not to start.
Dosso argued that Farmers was responsible for the loss under the “other than collision” coverage, and on Dec. 31, 2014, Farmers appraiser inspected the vehicle and reported there was nothing to appraise because Dosso did not have a covered loss.
Farmers told Dosso that the policy did not provide coverage for the leak and any resulted water damage due to the wear-and-tear exclusion. It suggested Dosso take his vehicle to a dealership for a diagnostic examination, which he repeatedly refused to do. Farmers told Dosso if he did not take it for examination within a set period of time, they would close the claim, and when he refused, they closed the claim on March 18, 2015.
On Feb.19, 2016, Dosso filed a complaint against Farmers alleging breach of an insurance contract, bad faith and intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress.
On June 29, 2017, the circuit court resolved the litigation between the parties by awarding Farmers summary judgment on Dosso’s claim for breach of their insurance contract.
“The circuit court properly granted respondent summary judgment in petitioner’s action alleging breach of an insurance contract, bad faith, and intentional and negligent infliction of emotion distress,” the decision states.
The court, however, did find that the circuit court erred in ordering Dosso to pay half of the commissioner’s fees and costs.
The court affirmed the circuit court’s order and reversed the commissioner’s fees portion.
West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals Case number: 17-0664