David C. Anderson and Trent B. Collier successfully defended a Texas insurance agency, obtaining a published opinion from the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals that rejected the plaintiff’s attempt to expand insurance-agent liability under Michigan law.
The plaintiff represented the estate of a man who died from injuries he sustained when a bounce house at a Major League Baseball game collapsed. The deceased’s estate asserted that the insurance agency was liable for allegedly failing to obtain a policy that covered inflatables like bounce houses. Although the insurance agency had a contractual relationship with the company that provided the bounce house, it never dealt with the deceased in any fashion before the accident. The estate was therefore asking the court to hold that a plaintiff can pursue a negligent-procurement claim against an insurance agency with which it has no relationship.
The Sixth Circuit unanimously concluded that the plaintiff’s claim failed under Michigan law. It found no support for the proposition that a plaintiff can pursue a negligent-procurement claim against another party’s insurance agency. Although the plaintiff argued that an earlier Sixth Circuit opinion supported its claim, the panel held that the earlier opinion’s analysis was flawed and, in any event, limited to cases in which the plaintiff was a named contractual beneficiary. It therefore affirmed the district court’s judgment in the insurance agency’s favor.