INSURANCE-RELATED COURT CASES
Digested from case reports published online
Katherine Rosenberg-Wohl had a homeowners policy with State Farm Fire and Casualty Company that provided coverage on her home in San Francisco. The policy had a limitation provision that required lawsuits to be “started within one year after the date of loss or damage.”
In late 2018 or early 2019, Rosenberg-Wohl noticed that on two occasions an elderly neighbor stumbled and fell as she descended Rosenberg-Wohl’s outside staircase. She learned that the pitch of the stairs had changed and that to make the stairs safe the staircase needed to be replaced. In late April 2019, she authorized the work and contacted State Farm, and on August 9 she submitted a claim for the money she had spent. On August 26, State Farm denied the claim.
Sometime later, Rosenberg-Wohl’s husband, attorney David Rosenberg-Wohl, reached out to State Farm “to see if anything could be done.” In August 2020, a State Farm adjuster said it had reopened the claim and a few days later denied it.
In October 2020, represented by her husband, Rosenberg-Wohl filed two lawsuits against State Farm in San Francisco superior court. One alleged two causes of action, for breach of the policy and for bad faith. That lawsuit was removed to federal court and was resolved against Rosenberg-Wohl on a motion to dismiss based on the one-year limitation provision.
The other action purported to allege a claim for violation of California’s unfair competition law. This case was also resolved against Rosenberg-Wohl, also based on the limitation provision—here, when the trial court sustained a demurrer to the second amended complaint without leave to amend.
Rosenberg-Wohl appealed, asserting two arguments: (1) The one-year limitation provision did not apply to her unfair competition claim, and (2) even if it did, State Farm waived the limitation provision. The court of appeal affirmed the dismissal of that suit, rejecting arguments that the one-year limitation provision did not apply to the unfair competition claim and that State Farm waived the limitation provision.
Rosenberg-Wohl v. State Farm Fire and Casualty Company—California Courts of Appeal, First Appellate District, Division Two—July 11, 2023—No. A163848.