Hawaii Supreme Court To Decide Agent’s Alleged Negligence in Failing to Submit Claim

    The Hawaii Supreme Court granted certiorari in a case invovling an agent’s alleged negligence in deciding not to submit a  claim. Pflueger, Inc. v. AIU Holdings, Inc., 2023 Haw. LEXIS 3 (Haw. Ct. App. Jan. 6, 2023). Our post on the Intermediat Court of Appeals decision is here.  

    The insured received a federal grant jury subpoena and informed the agent. The agent responded that a subpoena was not considered a “claim” and did not submit the claim to the insurer. Later, the insured’s attorney submitted the claim which was denied as untimely. The insured settled with the insurer, but continued the lawsuit against the agent.

    The jury found in favor of the insured, but the Intermediate Court of Appeals vacated the judgment. On remand, the trial court granted summary judgment to the agent because the insured had put forth no evidence to establish that the agent’s conduct contributed to the insurer’s denial of the claim. In the second appeal, the Intermediate Court of Appeals found the causation issue, i.e., whether the insurer would have denied coverage had the claim been timely submitted, raised an issue of material fact that should be left to the fact-finder. Therefore, the circuit court erred in granting the motion for summary judgment. 

    The dispute now moves to the Supreme Court.

    Thanks to my partner and blogging colleague, Mark Murakami, for notice of the cert. grant.