Danielle DePriest Obtains Summary Disposition for Insured’s Material Misrepresentation in Policy Application

On February 23, 2017, Zausmer attorney Danielle DePriest succeeded in convincing a Wayne County Circuit Court judge that misrepresentations made in an application for automobile insurance entitled the carrier to rescind the policy as if it never existed, resulting in the dismissal of the plaintiff’s first-party no-fault claim against Everest National Insurance Company.

Following a motor vehicle accident in November 2015, the plaintiff, an Everest policyholder, submitted a claim for first-party benefits. Investigation revealed that at the time she submitted her application for insurance, she failed to disclose that her two sons, ages 16 and 18, resided in her household. Had she listed them on the application as required, the premium would have increased substantially.

In May 2016, Everest notified the plaintiff by mail that because she materially misrepresented the members of her household, the company was within its rights to void the policy ab initio, and enclosed a check refunding the total amount of premium she paid. The insured cashed the refund payment but subsequently filed a lawsuit.

Discovery conducted by Danielle and ZAC shareholder Jim Wright, including the plaintiff’s deposition testimony, confirmed the misrepresentation, which laid the groundwork for a motion for summary disposition in accordance with established Michigan case law. In response, the plaintiff offered an affidavit indicating that the insurance agent with whom she filed her application did not ask her about her household residents, and that she did not make any intentional misrepresentations.

At oral argument, Danielle succeeded in arguing that the plaintiff’s interactions with the insurance agent were irrelevant – the agent was independent, and the fact that the plaintiff signed the application warranting her answers to be true and complete in every respect was incontrovertible. Agreeing with Danielle and Everest’s position, the court granted the defendant’s motion.

Congratulations, Danielle!


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