Connecticut Court Denies Motion to Amend Complaint to Include Allegation of Bad Faith
In Fiallo v. Allstate Ins. Co., AC32766 (slip. op.) (Conn. App. Oct. 2, 2012), the Connecticut Appellate Court held a trial court was within its discretion in denying a plaintiffs request to amend his complaint after a jury verdict but, the trial court had erred in failing to find ambiguity in the insurance policy.
In Fiallo, the Plaintiff brought suit against Allstate Insurance Company (“Allstate”) pursuant to the uninsured motorist provision of a policy issued by Allstate. A jury rendered a verdict in favor of the Plaintiff and Allstate filed a motion to reduce the verdict to $0 in accordance with the insurance policy. Thereafter, the Plaintiff filed a motion to amend the complaint to allege breach of the covenant of good faith and violation of the Connecticut Unfair Insurance Practices Act (“CUIPA”). The trial court denied the motion finding the claim was barred by res judicata. On appeal, the Plaintiff argued the court erred in denying the request to amend the complaint and that the trial court erred in failing to find any ambiguity in the language of the insurance policy, including the declarations page.
The appellate court on hearing the motion to amend the complaint upheld the lower court holding, for conduct and facts are known before the case is filed and arising out of the same set of facts, the allegations must be made in the complaint before it goes to the jury, otherwise the claims are barred by res judicata.
In deciding the Plaintiff’s ambiguity claim the court determined the trial erred in failing to find ambiguity in the language of the insurance policy. On appeal, the Plaintiff argued it was unclear whether the insurance policy for uninsured and underinsured motorist provided conversion coverage. The court agreed and found the language used on the declarations page was susceptible to more than one reading; “i.e., “uninsured/underinsured motorists” could refer either to uninsured/underinsured motorist insurance coverage or uninsured/underinsured motorist conversion insurance coverage.” The court, having found ambiguity in the language, determined to resolve the ambiguity, the trial court on remand should engage in fact-finding and use extrinsic evidence to determine the party’s intentions.
Fiallo v. Allstate