September 10, 2008
The Court of Appeals recently posted its minutes for September 5th, here. One published case dealing with torts and insurance.
The case of Rudolph v. Shelter Insurance Companies, the Court of Appeals dealt with the issue of a misrepresentation in a fire policy and whether summary judgment was proper for Shelter. Rudolph applied for fire insurance policy with Shelter Insurance Company. After his house burned to the ground it was revealed that he was convicted of a felony (manufacturing methamphetamine). The application asked if anyone applying for insurance had been convicted of a felony. Rudolph’s application denied any such convictions. After Shelter found out about the misrepresentation they rescinded the policy, claiming it was material to the risk and had it known it would not have issued the policy. The trial court granted summary judgment.
Rudolph claimed that he did not fill out the answers to the application, was not asked the question by the agent, and was not aware that the answer was false. He alleged that he only signed the application in a perfunctory manner. The court of appeals believed that an issue of fact existed whether Rudolph should be held responsible for a misrepresentation on an application when there was an issue as to whether he actually made the misrepresentation or whether the agent ever asked him the question. The court of appeals noted that Kentucky law differentiates between those cases when the applicant in a fire policy fills out the application and signs it, and those when the agent fills out the information and the application is signed only as a formality. It reversed the summary judgment.