I am so disappointed that the decisionmakers – company, attorneys, etc – decided to pursue a liability only claim against a $5000+ LD recovery without debris and apparently without fluid leaks. Put the same vehicle in a creek on its top with fluid leaks or high probability/risk thereof, and you get a whole different result…..unless you have precedent like this that the insurance companies can now argue and force another company to have to fight against. It’ll be interesting to see whether additional lawsuits are now filed in an attempt to further limit the debris vs no debris distinction.
“Bad facts make bad law.” Exactly! Based on the facts of this case Big Wheel probably should not have filed an appeal. It does set a bad precedent. Fortunately, the court’s opinion is not a reported opinion, meaning that it will not appear in the case law reporters.
The court’s ruling begs a question. The facts of the case involved a “clean” extraction. No leaks, no damage to the real property. Easy for the court to say that there was no “property damage” giving rise to a liability insurance claim. But take the facts of your hypothetical: “Put the same vehicle in a creek on its top with fluid leaks ….” In liability insurance-only cases are tow companies now going to be required to separate their invoices between the vehicle extraction (not payable) and the fluid cleanup (payable), or is the entire job payable under liability insurance? I suppose that will be answered in the next lawsuit!