American Guarantee & Liability Insurance Co. v. ACE American Insurance Co., No. 19-20779 (5th Cir. 2020)Annotate this Case
After Mark Braswell died when his road bike collided with a stopped truck, his survivors filed suit against the truck's owner, the Brickman Group. Brickman was primarily insured by ACE and secondarily insured by AGLIC. ACE rejected plaintiffs' three settlement offers before and during trial. The jury ultimately awarded plaintiffs nearly $28 million, plaintiffs and Brickman settled for nearly $10 million, and AGLIC paid nearly $8 million of the amount. AGLIC then filed suit against ACE, arguing that because ACE violated its Stowers duty to accept one of the three settlement offers for the primary policy limits, ACE had to cover AGLIC's settlement contribution. The district court agreed.
The Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court's judgment and held that ACE's Stowers duty was triggered by plaintiffs' third offer, and that ACE violated this duty. In this case, the offer generated a Stowers duty because it "proposed to release the insured fully" and it was not conditional. Furthermore, the evidence was sufficient to support that ACE violated its Stowers duty by failing to reevaluate the settlement value of the case and accept plaintiffs' reasonable offer.