Georgia’s High Court Says Geico Must Pay $2.7M for Failure to Settle

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However, the high court had difficulty answering the Eleventh Circuit’s three questions and could not give unqualified yes or no answers instead they chose to answer them only in the context of Winslett’s case.

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The court said that, although under Georgia law, a policyholder that is being sued is required to send their insurance provider a copy of the summons and complaint and any other related documents, and if they fail to do so this generally negates coverage. However, Winslett’s bankruptcy trustee sued Geico for tort-based damages under Geico’s duty to settle the lawsuit, not because it failed to indemnify the underlying insurance claim.

The court ruled that under Georgia Code Title 33-7-15, these circumstances left open a claim against Geico for failure-to-settle, even if the company was not notified of the judgment against Winslett.

Geico is represented by Joseph Robb Cruser and Kathleen Marie Hurley of Cruser Mitchell Novits Sanchez Gaston & ZImet LLP, Wallace Miller of Wallace Miller III LLC, and Leah Ward Sears, Edward H. Wasmuth and Colin Dang Delaney of Smith Gambrell & Russell LLP.