Judgment as a Matter of Law - Nationwide Mutual Insurance v. J-Mar Machine & Pump, Inc.


In Nationwide Mutual Insurance v. J-Mar Machine & Pump, Inc., [Ms. 1090685, Jun. 17, 2011] __ So. 3d __(Ala. 2011), the Supreme Court reversed a trial court's judgment denying Nationwide's renewed motion for judgment as a matter of law and rendered a judgment for Nationwide. In 1997, J-Mar Machine & Pump, Inc., a Birmingham business, procured a commercial liability and property insurance policy from Nationwide that afforded $100,000.00 in personal property coverage. In 2004, after an unfavorable inspection of J-Mar's business by an independent surveyor, Nationwide sent J-Mar a notice of cancellation of the policy. The president of J-Mar testified that he received the notice of cancellation and he knew that Nationwide was going to cancel the insurance policy effective November 1, 2004. The president of J-Mar then telephoned his local agent who sold J-Mar the insurance policy and asked the agent about the notice of cancellation. The president testified that the agent told him don't worry, that he would take care of it. The president further testified that he never received any document from Nationwide indicating the insurance policy had been reinstated. In December of 2004, the property belonging to J-Mar which had been covered by the Nationwide Insurance policy was stolen from J-Mar's premises. A few days later, the president attempted to pay the quarterly premium for the canceled insurance policy by sending a check to his agent, which his agent deposited. Despite J-Mar's knowledge that the insurance policy had been canceled, J-Mar filed a claim with Nationwide under the insurance policy for stolen property. Nationwide denied J-Mar's claim because the policy was not active for the date of loss. J-Mar sued Nationwide and the local agent. Ultimately, a jury trial was held and a verdict was returned in favor of J-Mar for $416,466.87. Nationwide appealed. On appeal, Nationwide argued that the trial court erred in denying its motion for judgment as a matter of law based on its contention that the undisputed evidence showed that the insurance policy had been canceled under the terms of the policy before J-Mar's claim arose. The Supreme Court agreed, reversed the trial court's judgment, and rendered a decision in favor of Nationwide as a matter of law.

Share To: