MAY 2018 BAD FAITH CASES: BAD FAITH CLAIM SEVERED AND STAYED; SUMMARY JUDGMENT ON CONTRACT CLAIM REVERSED WHERE JUDGE FAILED TO MAKE FINDINGS OF FACT AND CONCLUSIONS OF LAW (Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division)

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In this Hurricane Sandy related litigation, the insured brought claims for breach of contract and bad faith after the insurer denied coverage under a homeowner’s insurance policy pursuant to a surface water exclusion. The trial court severed and stayed the bad faith claim, and both parties moved for summary judgment on the breach of contract claim. The judge presiding over the motion proceeding granted summary judgment in favor of insurer, and denied the insured’s cross-motion for summary judgment “for the reasons set forth in [insurer’s] motion papers.” The motion judge “failed to make any findings of facts or reach any conclusions of law, as mandated by [New Jersey Rule of Court] 1:7-4(a).” The Appellate Division reversed and remanded, reasoning that “[a] trial judge is obliged to set forth factual findings and correlate them to legal conclusions[]” in accordance with the New Jersey Rules of Court.

Date of Decision: May 1, 2018

Estate of Doerfler v. Federal Insurance Co., Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division, Docket No. A-3353-15T2, 2018 N.J. Super. LEXIS 69 (N.J. App. Div. May 1, 2018) (Fuentes, Manahan, and Suter, JJ.)

 

 

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