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Langwith v. American National General Insurance Company

Supreme Court of Iowa
793 N.W.2d 215 (Iowa 2010)


Facts

Janet Fitzgerald (defendant) was an agent of American National General Insurance Company (American) (defendant). Dennis Langwith (plaintiff) and Susan Langwith purchased an automobile insurance policy and an umbrella policy from Fitzgerald. These policies covered the Langwiths’ children, including Ben Langwith (plaintiff). In December 2003, Ben’s driver’s license was suspended. American canceled Ben’s coverage under the Langwiths’ automobile insurance policy. American also sought to cancel the Langwiths’ umbrella insurance policy. The Langwiths avoided cancellation by signing an exclusion that precluded coverage for any losses that occurred when Ben was driving his parents’ car. Ben’s driver’s license was reinstated. After speaking with Susan, Fitzgerald procured a high-risk policy that covered Ben but that had a $250,000 limit. On July 16, 2008, Ben was involved an accident while driving Dennis’s car. A passenger was injured in the accident and sued Ben and Dennis. American denied liability under the umbrella policy based on the exclusion for Ben. Dennis and Ben filed suit against Fitzgerald, alleging that she had breached her duty of reasonable care by failing to advise Dennis about Ben’s lack of coverage under the umbrella policy, therefore causing the Langwiths to be partially uninsured. Ben and Dennis also included American in the suit under a theory of vicarious liability. The trial court granted Fitzgerald’s motion for summary judgment. Ben and Dennis appealed.

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Ternus, C.J.)

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  • A "yes" or "no" answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

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