Friday, December 27, 2013

Gruenberg v. Aetna Insurance Co. case brief

Gruenberg v. Aetna Insurance Co. case brief summary
510 P.2d 1032 (1973)

CASE SYNOPSIS
Plaintiff insured sought review from an order of the Superior Court of Los Angeles County (California), sustaining defendants', three insurance companies, an insurance investigator, and a law firm representing the insurance companies, general demurrers and dismissing his action against them for breach of their implied duty of good faith and fair dealing, with regard to benefits under fire insurance policies.

CASE FACTS
Plaintiff filed suit against defendants alleging that they willfully entered into a scheme to deprive him of the benefits under his fire insurance policies by falsely implying that he had a motive to deliberately set fire to and burn down his place of business. The trial court sustained defendants' general demurrers and dismissed plaintiff's complaint.

DISCUSSION

  • On appeal, the court reversed the trial court's dismissal of plaintiff's complaint as to the three insurance companies. 
  • It found that plaintiff stated facts sufficient to constitute a cause of action in tort against defendant insurance companies for breach of their implied duty of good faith and fair dealing, and that plaintiff stated facts sufficient for the recovery of damages for mental distress. 
  • As to the remaining defendants, the court found that they were not subject to any implied duty arising from a contractual relationship with plaintiff, and that the complaint did not state sufficient facts to constitute a cause of action against them.

CONCLUSION
The court reversed the order and the cause was remanded to the trial court with directions to overrule the demurrers and to allow defendants a reasonable time within which to answer. As to the remaining defendants, the judgment was affirmed. Plaintiff should recover his costs on appeal from defendants, and the other defendants shall recover their costs on appeal from plaintiff.

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