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Cases & Deals

April 3, 2024

King & Spalding Secures Victory for NUFIC and AIG in Bad Faith Insurance Claim

King & Spalding won a complete defense jury verdict on plaintiff's insurance bad faith and unfair insurance practices claims in Eden v. National Union Fire Ins. Co. of Pittsburgh (NUFIC). The hard-fought trial lasted two weeks in Bernalillo County District Court in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Plaintiff Gary Eden's claims arose out of a judgment against him in a wrongful death lawsuit wherein Mr. Eden was found to be at fault for the single-vehicle accident involving a commercial interstate tractor-trailer. Mr. Eden was driving the tractor-trailer at the time of the accident - unbeknownst to the motor carrier and without a valid commercial driver's license. The motor carrier's insurer, defendant AIG/National Union, disclaimed coverage as to Mr. Eden in that underlying lawsuit. Mr. Eden thereafter filed an insurance bad faith action against AIG/National Union. Contrary to federal motor carrier law and the express terms of the commercial trucking insurance policy, the Court in the bad faith case ruled Mr. Eden was an "insured" under New Mexico law and so instructed the jury in the insurance bad faith and unfair insurance practices trial. In the face of those odds, and after plaintiff requested nearly $50 million in total damages, the jury still unanimously found in favor of AIG/National Union - finding no bad faith, no violations of the New Mexico Unfair Insurance Practices Act, and no punitive damages. The team’s victory came in an incredibly challenging venue, in the face of unfavorable rulings, and against the top three bad faith plaintiff firms in New Mexico. This victory also comes on the heels of two large plaintiff bad faith verdicts in New Mexico for $95M and $55M, respectively. This victory was a critical win, as an adverse verdict would have seriously impacted interstate commerce for commercial trucking companies operating in the State of New Mexico and throughout the country. Alex Calfo (LAX), Julia Romano (LAX), and Zach Burnett (AUS) were supported by Brigette Price and were assisted by insurance coverage counsel Matt Fink at Nicolaides Fink Thorpe Michaelides Sullivan LLP.