Nat'l Am. Ins. Co. v. Artisan & Truckers Cas. Co., No. 14-2694 (7th Cir. 2015)Annotate this Case
Viktor Barengolts was driving a tractor-trailer on Route 30 in Wheatland Township, Illinois when he rear-ended the Bernals in their pickup truck, causing serious injuries and property damage. The Bernals sued Unlimited Carrier, the company whose placard appeared on the tractor at the time; Viktor Barengolts; and Michael Barengolts, who owned the tractor. Viktor contacted Artisan, his insurance provider, which denied coverage, stating that the Contingent Liability Endorsement excluded coverage because he was driving the tractor on behalf of Unlimited Carrier at the time of the accident. The policy lists Viktor as an insured and Michael as an additional insured. Michael’s tractor is covered. Counsel for Unlimited Carrier wrote to Artisan, demanding that it defend the Barengoltses. Artisan refused. Michael disclosed that he did not sign a lease with Unlimited Carrier for use of the tractor until eight days after the accident. Counsel for the Barengoltses again unsuccessfully tendered the defense and sought indemnity. NAICO, the insurer for Unimited Carrier, defended the Barengoltses under a reservation of rights and paid settlements totaling $98,750 to the Bernals. The Seventh Circuit affirmed that Artisan had a duty to defend, that it breached that duty, and that Artisan was estopped from asserting defenses under its policy, stating that Artisan gambled and lost.