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Kearns and Hoynacki Halt Bad Faith Case in Collaboration with Legalign Global Partner DAC Beachcroft

December 28, 2018

Patrick Kearns (Partner-San Diego) and David Hoynacki (Associate-San Diego) prevailed on a motion for forum non conveniens on behalf of a major insurance carrier located in Mexico City. The win marks a huge success for Wilson Elser’s Legalign Global alliance in collaboration with DAC Beachcroft’s Mexico City office. The claim arose via an aircraft accident in Tijuana, Mexico. The original policy holder, the pilot, had purchased an aircraft liability policy through a broker in California. The policy, however, was a Mexican insurance policy limited to flights in Mexican airspace. The crash killed the pilot and a bystander on the ground. The family of the bystander sued the pilot’s estate in California and obtained a multimillion-dollar award in arbitration. The pilot’s estate then assigned their rights under the liability policy to the bystander’s family, California residents, who brought an action for bad faith in San Diego, alleging that the carrier had refused to defend the pilot’s estate. Patrick and David moved to dismiss or stay the action under the doctrine forum non conveniens, arguing that (1) as the policy was issued pursuant to Mexican law, (2) all pertinent witnesses lived in Mexico, (3) the accident occurred in Mexico and, most importantly (4) the policy was adjusted in Mexico, the case should be heard in the courts of Mexico. The trial judge granted their motion and stayed the action for all purposes forcing the plaintiff to litigate the case in Mexico.

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