Monroe Guaranty Insurance Co. v. Bitco General Insurance Corp. (Opinion)Annotate this Case
In this insurance coverage dispute presenting two certified questions from the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit the Supreme Court held that the Northfield exception to the "eight-corners rule" is permissible under Texas law. See Northfield Insurance Co. v. Loving Home Care, Inc., 363 F,3d 523 (5th Cir. 2004).
Plaintiff brought the underlying suit alleging that Insured negligently drilled an irrigation well, damaging Plaintiff's land. Insured demanded a defense from its two liability insurers, BITCO General Insurance Corp., which defended under a reservation of rights, and Monroe Guaranty Insurance Company, which refused to defend. BITCO sued Monroe seeking a declaration that Monroe owed a defense to Plaintiff. The certified questions in this case related to the subsidiary issue of whether Texas law permits consideration of stipulated extrinsic evidence to determine whether the duty to defend exists when the plaintiff's pleading is silent about a potentially dispositive coverage fact. The Supreme Court held (1) the Northfield exception is permissible provided that the extrinsic evidence meets three conditions; and (2) the stipulation offered in this case may not be considered because it overlaps with the merits of liability.