Pertaining to their personal injury action, plaintiffs petitioned court for writ of mandate challenging decision of the Los Angeles County Superior Court (California) granting judgment on the pleadings without leave to amend in favor of defendant insurance company and defendant automobile company on plaintiffs' claim for negligent spoliation of evidence.

Plaintiffs sued defendants for personal injuries sustained in an automobile accident. In their action, plaintiffs asserted a cause of action against defendant insurance company and defendant automobile company for negligent spoliation of evidence. The trial court granted judgment on the pleadings in favor of defendant insurance company and defendant automobile company on that claim and plaintiffs appealed. The court affirmed the trial court. The Class action lawyers California concluded on the basis of relevant policy considerations that no cause of action existed for negligent spoliation of evidence. However, the court directed the trial court to grant the plaintiffs leave to amend the complaint to allege a cause of action for breach of a contractual duty to preserve evidence. Pertaining to the negligent spoliation issue, the court concluded that it would be anomalous to impose liability for negligence with respect to conduct that would not give rise to liability if committed intentionally.

Court issued writ of mandate directing trial court to vacate its order granting judgment on pleadings without leave to amend in favor of defendant insurance company and defendant automobile company on claim for negligent spoliation of evidence and to enter new order granting judgment on pleadings with leave to amend.

Appellant insurer challenged the decision of the Superior Court of San Diego County (California), which declared that coverage existed under a renter's protection policy and, following a jury verdict for respondent insured on her cross-complaint for bad faith, entered judgment accordingly.

Appellant insurer issued a renter's protection policy. While experiencing mental problems, respondent insured barricaded herself in her military quarters. Respondent shot a "SWAT" team officer when he entered her quarters. The officer filed a personal injury suit against respondent. Although appellant sought declaratory relief regarding coverage, it eventually paid the underlying judgment against respondent. Respondent filed a cross-complaint for bad faith against appellant. After declaring that coverage existed, the trial court entered judgment in accordance with a jury verdict for respondent on the cross-complaint. Appellant sought review. The court reversed, holding that appellant's pursuit of the declaratory relief action was in good faith as a matter of law because bad faith liability could not be imposed where there was a genuine issue as to appellant's liability (e.g., it was a reasonable interpretation of the evidence to conclude that the shooting was calculated and deliberate and thus not accidental under the policy's occurrence provision.) Moreover, because appellant had proper cause to dispute coverage, its failure to settle the underlying action was not in bad faith.

The court reversed the trial court's entry of a judgment for respondent insured on her cross-complaint for bad faith, holding that, as a matter of law, appellant insurer's pursuit of a declaratory relief action and failure to settle the underlying action was not in bad faith because respondent's intentional act of shooting a "SWAT" team officer did not constitute an "accident" or "occurrence" under the disputed renter's protection policy.

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Marina Pal is a renowned author and social media enthusiast.