Insurance: FORD V. RATLIFF (COA; 1/13/2006)

CIVIL – INSURANCE (Settlement, release, assignment)

DATE:  1/13/2006

CA affirms TC dismissal of direct action against insurance company, citing release of tortfeasor.

In this auto collision case, plaintiff settled with tortfeasor, signing a settlement agreement and release (in exchange for policy limits under a Kentucky Farm Bureau policy) that attempted to leave open the option to sue general liability insurer Scottsdale Insurance. An agreed order dismissing "any and all" claims against the tortfeasors, with prejudice, was entered. After, plaintiff amended complaint to include general liability carrier. Carrier moved to dismiss, arguing that, under Kentucky law, plaintiff must file against tortfeasor, not directly against his carrier. Plaintiff claimed he had an executed assignment of rights, but was unable to produce it. Plaintiff moved the court to require plaintiff to sign a new one, which it declined, citing the language of the agreement. Plaintiff cannot proceed against the insurer directly; dismissal affirmed.