On May 14, 2021, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Arkansas entered a Judgment in favor of a plaintiff policyholder against the defendant insurance company, New Hampshire Insurance Company (“New Hampshire”), in the amount of $300,000.00.1 The course leading to this Judgment is interesting, as the Judgment did not result from a jury trial or a bench trial. Instead, the Judgment resulted from New Hampshire’s voluntary offer to confess judgment in the amount of $300,000.00. This followed a multi-year litigation, during which time New Hampshire denied all liability on the policyholder’s claims of breach of contract and failure to act in good faith and with fair dealing. It is not surprising New Hampshire continued to deny all liability to the bitter end, even in its offer to confess judgment; however, the fact it offered to pay the plaintiff $300,000.00 is telling, as it had previously offered to pay $0.00.
This is not the first time a judgment has been entered against New Hampshire Insurance Company on a policyholder’s breach of contract claim. In May of 2009, New Hampshire was a party to a four-day trial in a case where New Hampshire sued its own policyholder seeking a declaration New Hampshire did not breach an insurance contract. The policyholder, in turn, claimed New Hampshire did breach the insurance contract. The jury agreed with the policyholder and awarded the policyholder $1,750,000.00 in damages.2
Additionally, on August 30, 2017, a judge from the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan granted a policyholder’s motion for summary judgment on a breach of contract claim against New Hampshire Insurance Company.3 The judge considered competing motions for summary judgment, one filed by the policyholder and the other filed by New Hampshire, where each party asked the court to determine the proper interpretation of the insurance contract. The policyholder asked the court to find coverage through an Endorsement, while New Hampshire asked the court to deny coverage through an Exclusion. The court agreed with the policyholder’s interpretation, finding New Hampshire’s interpretation of the exclusionary provision upon which it relied was improper. Referring to New Hampshire, the court stated, “Simply put, Defendant’s interpretation is contrary to the contract’s plain language.”4 Judgment was subsequently entered in favor of the policyholder and against New Hampshire in the amount of $269,801.52.5
Judgments become a matter of public record; therefore, the recent May 14, 2021, Judgment against New Hampshire is available for all to see, as are the other two. While these alone do not show a pattern or practice by New Hampshire of wrongfully denying owed benefits to its policyholders, they are certainly evidence of a history of wrongful denials by New Hampshire and, possibly, could be used in the future to help policyholders whose claims with New Hampshire have been wrongfully denied.
1 Crawford-Sebastian Cmty. Dev. Council, Inc. v. New Hampshire Ins. Co., No. 2:19-cv-02128 (W.D. Ark. May 14, 2021).
2 New Hampshire Ins. Co. v. Blue Water Off Shore, LLC, No. 07-0754 (S.D. Ala. May 19, 2009).
3 Shoreline Growers, Inc. v. New Hampshire Ins. Co., No. 1:16-cv-1124 (W.D. Mich. Aug. 30, 2017).
4 Id. At 10
5 Shoreline Growers, Inc. v. New Hampshire Ins. Co., No. 1:16-cv-1124 (W.D. Mich. Sept. 18, 2017).