Procedural Posture

Procedural Posture

Defendant liability insurer refused to provide a defense in an action against plaintiff insured on the ground that the insured Salmon Norway, Inc. had failed to timely report the claim as required under the terms of two insurance policies issued by the insurer. The insured sued the insurer for breach of contract. The Los Angeles County Superior Court, California, entered judgment in favor of the insurer. The insured appealed.

Overview

The insured had been sued by a former employee for employment discrimination and wrongful termination. The insured asserted that its notice of claim was timely because neither the former employee’s complaint to the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing nor a letter written by the former employee’s attorney was a “claim” within the meaning of the policies, and even if either of those items was a claim, the former employee’s lawsuit was a separate claim for which the insured provided timely notice. The court concluded that the letter was a “claim” as defined in the policies. The letter was “a written demand for civil damages or other relief” within the meaning of the policy definition. The lawsuit and the letter constituted a single claim. The insured received the letter during the first policy period but failed to notify the insurer of the claim within 30 days after the expiration of the policy, as required. The insured’s subsequent notice of the lawsuit during the second policy period concerned the same claim and therefore was untimely. The insured was not entitled to coverage because it failed to timely report the claim after receiving the letter.

Outcome

The judgment was affirmed.