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Preview: LexisNexis® Mealey's™ California Insurance Legal News

LexisNexis® Mealey's™ California Insurance Legal News



Headline California Insurance Legal News from LexisNexis®



 



Fraudulent Wire Transfer Emails Did Not Trigger Coverage, 9th Circuit Rules
PASADENA, Calif. - Affirming a trial court's judgment, a Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on March 9 found no coverage under a crime insurance policy for funds lost by an accounting firm's wire transfers pursuant to fraudulently sent emails, concluding that provisions for forgery, computer fraud and funds transfer fraud did not apply (Taylor & Lieberman v. Federal Insurance Co., No. 15-56102, 9th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 4205).



9th Circuit Set To Decide Whether Court Erred In Dismissing Bad Faith Claim
SAN FRANCISCO - A Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel will hear oral arguments on March 7 in an appeal of a federal district court ruling granting an insurer's motion for summary judgment on its insured's insurance bad faith claim in which the lower court held that no genuine issue of material fact existed showing that the insurer acted in bad faith in its investigation and handling of the insured's underinsured motorist claim (Chris "Wyatt" Hicks v. Progressive Casualty Insurance, No. 15-55953, 9th Cir.).



Panel: Insurer Had No Duty To Indemnify Insured Based On Coverage Exclusion
SAN FRANCISCO - A federal district court did not err in determining that an insurer did not owe its insurer a duty of indemnification because the insured's policy contained a provision exempting coverage for the claims sought and properly determined that the insurer owed its insured a duty to defend in an underlying negligence lawsuit, a Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled Feb.15 in affirming (Foremost Insurance Company Grand Rapids v. Benjamin Evans, et al., Nos. 15-55869 and 15-55988, 9th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 2681).



Judge: Breach Of Contract, Bad Faith Claims Not Filed Within Limitations Period
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - An insured's claims for insurance breach of contract and bad faith against his insurer were not timely filed within the contractual limitations period and the insured failed to show that the insurer engaged in any outrageous conduct to support a claim for intentional infliction of emotional distress in failing to provide coverage under a comprehensive long-term care policy, a federal judge in California ruled Feb. 9 in granting the insurer's motion to dismiss (Donald Mann v. Mutual of Omaha, et al., No. 16-2560, E.D. Calif., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 18732).



Panel Reverses District Court's Summary Judgment Ruling In Bad Faith Suit
SAN FRANCISCO - A federal district court erred in granting a third party's motion for summary judgment on her breach of the implied duty to settle claim in an insurance bad faith and breach of contract lawsuit because no reasonable jury could conclude that the insurer "unreasonably failed to accept" the third party's offer to settle, a Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled March 7 in reversing (Amy J. McDaniel v. Government Employees Insurance Co., No. 14-17203, 9th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 4029).



9th Circuit Reverses, Remands Excess Coverage Suit Over Racial Discrimination Claim
PASADENA, Calif. - The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Feb. 21 reversed and remanded a lower federal court's ruling in a dispute over excess coverage for a settlement demand in an underlying racial discrimination lawsuit against the city of Montebello, Calif. (Security National Insurance Co. v. City of Montebello, Nos. 15-56199 and 15-56263, 9th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 2965).



California Federal Judge OKs Settlement In Dispute Over Offset Of Veterans' Benefits
OAKLAND, Calif. - A California federal on March 1 approved a class action settlement between former U.S. veterans and Liberty Life Assurance Company of Boston after determining that the terms of the settlement, which provides compensation to class members whose disability benefits were offset or reduced by Liberty Life, are reasonable (James L. Bush v. Liberty Life Assurance Company of Boston, et al., No. 14-1507, N.D. Calif.).



9th Circuit Panel Upholds Plan's Offset Of Disability Benefits
SAN FRANCISCO - Plan language clearly allowed an insurer to offset permanent partial disability benefits by the amount of long-term disability benefits the employee received, a Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel held Feb. 16 (John Del Gallego v. Wells Fargo & Co. Long Term Disability Plan, et al., No. 15-15294, 9th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 2753).



Disability Plan Is Governed By ERISA, California Federal Judge Determines
LOS ANGELES - A California federal judge on Feb. 10 denied a plaintiff's motion to remand a disability suit to state court because the disability plan at issue is not a "church plan" and is governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (Melvyn L. Durham v. The Prudential Insurance Company of America et al., No. 16-8202, C.D. Calif., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 19402).



Claimant's Suit Was Timely Filed, California Federal Judge Says
SAN FRANCISCO - A disability claimant's suit alleging wrongful termination of benefits was timely filed, a California federal judge said Feb. 13 after determining that the plan's three-year limitations period did not begin to run until after the 180-day deadline to appeal the termination of benefits ended (Nancy Hart v. UNUM Life Insurance Company of America, No. 15-5392, N.D. Calif., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 20198).



Conservator Asks Court To Convert Conservatorship To Liquidation
SAN FRANCISCO - California's insurance commissioner asked one of his state's courts on Feb. 17 to declare an insurer insolvent and order its liquidation (Dave Jones, Insurance Commissioner of the State of California v. CastlePoint National Insurance Company, and DOES 1-50, No. CPF-16-515183, Calif. Super., San Francisco Co.).



Insurer Has Article III Standing To Sue Insured, Assignees, Panel Says, Reversing
PASADENA, Calif. - The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Feb. 28 reversed and remanded a lower federal court's finding that an insurer has no standing to sue its doctor insured and the insured's patients for declaratory relief and rescission of insurance policies (Allied Professionals Insurance Co. v. Michael Scott Anglesey, M.D., et al., No. 15-55231, 9th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 3658).



Panel Partly Reverses Ruling In Directors, Officers Liability Coverage Dispute
LOS ANGELES - In reversing a lower court in part, a California appeals panel on March 8 held that although a directors and officers liability insurance policy's "Willful Misconduct Exclusion" barred coverage for losses brought about by fraud or criminal acts, the exclusion did not apply to defense expenses (Mitchell J. Stein v. Axis Insurance Company, et al., No. B265069, Calif. App., 2nd Dist., Div. 1, 2017 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 1628).



Progressive Injury Exclusion Bars Coverage For Water Damage Suits, Judge Says
SAN FRANCISCO - A policy's continuous or progressive injury exclusion bars coverage for two underlying suits filed against an insured because the insured's repair work to address the water intrusion problems was completed more than four years before the inception of the policy, a California federal judge said Jan. 31 (Saarman Construction Ltd. v. Ironshore Specialty Insurance Co., No. 15-3548, N.D. Calif., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 13633).



Yahoo Sues Insurer Over Coverage Of Email Scanning Suits
SAN JOSE, Calif. - On Jan. 31, Yahoo! Inc. sued its commercial general liability (CGL) provider in California federal court, alleging breach of contract and bad faith related to the insurer's decision not to defend or indemnify the internet firm in four class actions alleging privacy violations in certain email-scanning practices (Yahoo! Inc. v. National Union Fire Insurance Company of Pittsburgh, Pa., No. 5:17-cv-00489, N.D. Calif.).



California Federal Judge Says Complete Diversity Does Not Exist, Remands Mold Suit
LOS ANGELES - Because a plaintiff can arguably state a claim against an insurance claims adjuster for intentional infliction of emotional distress, the claims adjuster is not a sham defendant and was not fraudulently joined to defeat federal jurisdiction, a California federal judge said March 17 in remanding the insureds' suit seeking additional coverage for mold damage to California state court (Health Pro Dental Corp., et al. v. Travelers Property Casualty Company of America, et al., No. 17-637, C.D. Calif., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 38944).



California Panel Upholds Rulings Requiring Man To Repay Unemployment Benefits
SAN JOSE, Calif. - A California appeals panel on Feb. 24 upheld a trial court's decision to deny a man's request for a writ of mandate that would allow him to retain unemployment benefits he received from November 2008 through March 2013, finding that he obtained the benefits through misrepresentations (Abhijit Prasad v. California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board, No. H041590, Calif. App., 6th Dist., 2017 Calif. App. Unpub. LEXIS 1349).



Panel: Evidence Supports $3.5M Jury Verdict In Tainted Onions Coverage Dispute
VENTURA, Calif. - A California appeals panel on March 1 affirmed a jury verdict against an excess insurer in an equitable contribution dispute over $3.5 million that the primary insurer paid to settle a lawsuit arising from a deadly outbreak of hepatitis A caused by contaminated onions that were marketed by the wholesaler insured (National Fire Insurance Company of Hartford v. Great American Insurance Co., No. B264238, Calif. App., 2nd Dist., Div. 6, 2017 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 1453).



9th Circuit: Insurance Policy Bars Damage Caused By 'Subsidence'
SAN FRANCISCO - Claims against a mutually insured subcontractor for damage caused by "subsidence" are excluded under an insurance policy, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled Feb. 14, finding that an insurer had no duty to defend and thus was not responsible to share in costs incurred by a defending insurer (St. Paul Mercury Insurance Co. v. Navigators Specialty Insurance Co., No. 14-56723, 9th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 2586).



Insurer, Reinsurer Stipulate To Dismissal Of Asbestos Reinsurance Case
SAN FRANCISCO - An insurer and a reinsurer told a federal court in California on Feb. 22 that they want to close their asbestos personal injury related reinsurance dispute with prejudice (The American Insurance Co. v. R&Q Reinsurance Co., No. 16-3044, N.D. Calif.).



Excess Insurer's Duty To Additional Insured At Issue Before 9th Circuit
SAN FRANCISCO - The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Feb. 9 received a reply brief in a case involving the scope of duty an excess insurer owes to an additional insured employee who used her vehicle for work purposes and was involved in an accident with a motorcycle, resulting in a $150,000 coverage gap (Judy Bamberger v. National Union Fire Insurance Co., No. 16-55252, 9th Cir.).



Progressive Injury Exclusion Bars Coverage For Water Damage Suits, Judge Says
SAN FRANCISCO - A policy's continuous or progressive injury exclusion bars coverage for two underlying suits filed against an insured because the insured's repair work to address the water intrusion problems was completed more than four years before the inception of the policy, a California federal judge said Jan. 31 (Saarman Construction Ltd. v. Ironshore Specialty Insurance Co., No. 15-3548, N.D. Calif., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 13633).



California Appeals Panel Says No Additional Coverage Owed For Water Damages
SAN FRANCISCO - An insurer owes no additional coverage for water damages to an insured's condominium, the First District California Court of Appeal, Division Four, said Feb. 10 after determining that substantial evidence supports a jury's verdict in favor of the insurer (Greg Kawai v. State Farm Fire and Casualty Co., et al., No. A136569, Calif. App., 1st Dist., Div. 4, 2017 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 1006).



Panel: Failure To Request Written Consent Before Settlement Negates Coverage
PASADENA, Calif. - The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Jan. 19 found that a lower federal court properly applied California law in finding that a bank insured breached its professional liability insurance policy by failing to request or obtain the insurer's written consent before executing a settlement in an underlying mortgage loan dispute (OneWest Bank, FSB, v. Houston Casualty Co., No. 15-55579, 9th Cir.; 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 993).



9th Circuit: Insurer Has Duty To Defend Against Product Disparagement Claims
PASADENA, Calif. - The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Jan. 27 affirmed a lower federal court's judgment against an insurer on an insured's breach of contract and bad faith claims, finding that the insurer has a duty to defend its insured against two underlying product disparagement lawsuits brought by competitors (Millennium Laboratories, Inc. v. Darwin Select Insurance Co., No. 15-55227, 9th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 1533).



California High Court: Statutory Authority Supports Replacement Cost Regulation
SAN FRANCISCO - The Supreme Court of California on Jan. 23 held that statutory authority supports the California Insurance commissioner's 2011 regulation covering replacement cost estimates for homeowners insurance, reversing and remanding an appeals court's judgment that invalidated the regulation (Association of California Insurance Companies et al., v. Dave Jones, as commissioner, etc., No. S226529, Calif. Sup.; 2017 Cal. LEXIS 217).



Insureds Failed To File Suit Within 1-Year Limitation Period, Federal Judge Says
LOS ANGELES - Because insureds seeking coverage for damages to their home caused by a sewage backup did not file their lawsuit against their insurers until well after the policy's one-year limitation period expired, a California federal judge on Feb. 13 granted the insurers' motion for summary judgment and dismissed the insureds' complaint in its entirety (Jacqueline Keller. et al. v. Federal Insurance Co., et al., No. 16-3946, C.D. Calif., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 20820).



Breach Of Contract, Bad Faith Suits Consolidated For Discovery Purposes
LOS ANGELES - A federal judge in California on Jan. 13 granted an insured's motion to consolidate its insurance breach of contract and bad faith lawsuit with a related action for discovery purposes, ruling that consolidation was appropriate because no parties opposed (Aspen Specialty Insurance Co. v. Riddell Inc., et al, No. 15-6324; and Bell Sports Inc. v. Aspen Specialty Insurance Co., et al., No. 16-8409, C.D. Calif.; 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 7655).



Insureds Sufficiently Pleaded Claims Against Broker, Panel Says In Reversal
LOS ANGELES - A California appeals panel on Feb. 1 found that insureds have sufficiently pleaded claims for fraud, negligent misrepresentation, negligence and breach of contract against a surplus line insurance broker, reversing a lower court (A Plus Fabrics, Inc., et al. v. Yates & Associates Insurance Services, et al., No. B260767, Calif. App., 2nd Dist., Div. 3, 2017 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 728).



Couple Says Insurer's Abuse Exclusion Clause Was Improperly Applied
SAN FRANCISCO - A doctor and his wife recently told the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals that a federal judge in Arizona erred when awarding summary judgment to their insurer, arguing that they were entitled to coverage for an adverse verdict in a wrongful death suit because the policy's abuse exclusion was not applicable (Carlos F. Verdugo, et al. v. American Family Insurance Company, Nos. 16-15687, 16-5717, 9th Cir.).



Farm Says It Should Have Been Given Information Regarding Criminal Investigation
SAN FRANCISCO - An agricultural business has told the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals that information allegedly withheld by its federal crop insurer should have been divulged before the farm signed a settlement that led to a criminal indictment (POCO, LLC v. Farmer's Crop Insurance Alliance, Inc., No. 16-35310, 9th Cir.).



Panel Finds Limitations Period Precludes Insured's Breach Of Contract Claim
SAN FRANCISCO - A policy's 12-month limitations period bars an insured's breach of contract claim regarding its insurer's denial of coverage for scratches on glass windows at a condominium development project, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals affirmed Dec. 21 (Queensridge Towers LLC v. Allianz Global Risks US Insurance Co., No. 15-15128, 9th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 22927).



Federal Judge Strikes Insurer's Counterclaim Over Coverage For Defects Suits As Redundant
FRESNO, Calif. - A California federal judge on Nov. 29 struck an insurer's counterclaim as being redundant of another insurer's declaratory judgment claim seeking to resolve a dispute over primary coverage for an insured in construction defect cases (Houston Casualty Co. v. Charter Oak Fire Insurance Co., et al., No. 16-535, E.D. Calif.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 164622).



Coverage Dispute Arising From Storm Surge Was Not Timely Filed, Federal Judge Says
LOS ANGELES - A California federal judge on Dec. 21 granted a federal flood insurer's motion to dismiss an insured's breach of contract lawsuit, finding that the action was not filed in federal court within the one-year statute of limitations required by the Standard Flood Insurance Policy (SFIP) (Judd Apatow v. American Bankers Insurance Company of Florida, et al., No. 16-198, C.D. Calif.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 180529).



9th Circuit Certifies 2 Questions To California High Court In Environmental Suit
SAN FRANCISCO - The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Jan. 13 certified two questions to the California Supreme Court regarding whether California's notice-prejudice rule is a fundamental public policy for the purpose of choice-of-law analysis and whether a consent provision can be interpreted as a notice provision (Pitzer College v. Indian Harbor Insurance Co., No.. 14-56017, 9th Cir.; 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 668).



Insured Not Entitled To Defense From 3 Insurers, 9th Circuit Panel Affirms
SAN FRANCISCO - A district court did not err in determining that an insured seeking coverage from three insurers for an underlying environmental lawsuit is not entitled to coverage under the policies because the insured failed to tender the underlying suit to the insurers and received a defense for the underlying suit from another insurer, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals said Jan. 13 (M.B.L. Inc. v. Federal Insurance Co., et al., No. 14-56107, 9th Cir.; 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 695).



Insurer Acted In Good Faith In Handling Of Extra Expense Claims, Judge Rules
LOS ANGELES - An insured has failed to provide any genuine issues of material fact to show that his insurer breached the terms of an insurance policy or acted in bad faith in handling a business-income claim for losses associated with commercial property that sustained fire damage, a federal judge in California ruled Jan. 9 (Richard G. Heller v. American States Insurance Co., No. 15-9771, C.D. Calif.; 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 3636).



Directors, Officers Policy Does Not Cover FDIC's Claims, Majority Says, Reverses
PASADENA, Calif. - A majority of the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Jan. 10 found that a directors and officers liability insurance policy unambiguously excludes from coverage the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.'s negligence, gross negligence and breach of fiduciary duty claims against a failed bank's former directors and officers, reversing and remanding a lower court (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, as Receiver for Security Pacific Bank v. BancInsure, Inc., No. 14-56132, 9th Cir.; 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 452).



Federal Investigation Is Single Claim; Exclusions Apply, Insurer Tells 9th Circuit
SAN FRANCISCO - A health care organization's directors and officers liability insurer has responded to an insured's appeal asking the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals to reverse or "at the very least" remand a lower federal court's finding in favor of the insurer in a coverage dispute arising from an underlying investigation brought by the U.S. Department of Justice (Millennium Laboratories, Inc. v. Allied World Insurance Company [U.S.], Inc., No. 16-55432, 9th Cir.).



Liquidator Asks Court To Set Contingent Claim Update Deadline
SAN FRANCISCO - The liquidator of an insolvent insurer on Oct. 17 asked a California court to set a deadline for claimants to submit updated information regarding unliquidated and contingent claims (Insurance Commissioner of the State of California v. Western Employers Insurance Company, No. CPF-97-984281, Calif. Super., San Francisco Co., Civil Div.).



Insurer: Arguments Made By Reinsurer Regarding Jurisdiction Are Invalid
SAN FRANCISCO - An insurer argued in a federal court in California on Dec. 20 that its reinsurer's "first-to-file" argument is invalid because the reinsurer did not raise that defense in a previous motion to dismiss the insurer's breach of contract suit (The American Insurance Co. v. R&Q Reinsurance Co., No. 16-3044, N.D. Calif.).



Reinsured Says It And Reinsurer Have Reached A Settlement In Principle
SAN FRANCISCO - An insurer tells a federal court in California in a Jan. 11 letter that it and its reinsurer have reached a settlement in principle of their asbestos-related reinsurance dispute (The American Insurance Co. v. R&Q Reinsurance Co., No. 16-3044, N.D. Calif.).



Panel: Insurer Entitled To Recoupment Of Costs Defending Trade Secret Dispute
SAN FRANCISCO - A California appeals panel on Jan. 10 affirmed a lower court's grant of summary judgment in favor of an insurer seeking recoupment of the costs it incurred in defending its agents against claims it brought against the agents involving trade secrets (State Farm Fire And Casualty Co. v. Richard Pyorre, No. A147302, Calif. App., 1st Dist., Div. 1).



9th Circuit Panel Upholds Woman's 151-Month Sentence For Health Care Fraud
PASADENA, Calif. - A Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Dec. 14 affirmed a federal judge in California's decision to sentence a woman convicted of health care fraud to 151 to 188 months in prison and order her to pay $8 million in restitution, finding that the woman's crimes warranted the punishment (United States of America v. Uben Rush, No. 13-50169, 9th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 22201).



Appeals Panel Says Evidence Supports Insurer's Denial Of Disability Benefits
SAN FRANCISCO - The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Dec. 23 affirmed a district court's ruling that a disability insurer's denial of benefits was reasonable after determining that the evidence does not support the contention that the claimant was permanently disabled (Fred Arko v. Hartford Life and Accident Insurance Co., No. 14-17287, 9th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 23207).



California Federal Judge Sets Bench Trial In Suit Seeking Disability Benefits
SAN FRANCISCO - A California federal judge on Dec. 9 scheduled a bench trial in a disability benefits dispute after determining that it is not clear from the available evidence whether a claimant's prior disability claims factored into the insurer's decision to deny a third disability claim (Robert Bosley v. Metropolitan Life Insurance Co., No. 16-139, N.D. Calif.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 170872).



California Federal Judge Adopts Insurer's Interpretation Of Elimination Period
SAN FRANCISCO - A California federal judge on Dec. 19 determined that a disability claimant's brief return to part-time work does not extend the end of the plan's elimination period for benefits because the claimant's attempt to work in a part-time capacity only bolsters the conclusion that the claimant was still disabled when he returned to part-time work (Marlon Montoya v. Reliance Standard Life Insurance Co., No. 14-2740, N.D. Calif.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 175208).



Plan Administrator Did Not Abuse Discretion In Denying Claim, 9th Circuit Says
SAN FRANCISCO - A plan administrator did not abuse its discretion in denying a claim for disability pension benefits because the denial was reasonable based on the evidence and the terms of the plan, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals said Dec. 23 (Eun Sug Cha v. 1199SEIU Health Care Employees Pension Fund, No. 15-55435, 9th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 23235).



Plaintiff Not Owed Coverage As Additional Insured, 9th Circuit Affirms
PASADENA, Calif. - The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Jan. 11 affirmed a lower federal court's ruling in favor of an insurer in a breach of contract lawsuit seeking coverage for property and business interruption losses (Bita Trading Inc. v. Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co., et al., No. 15-55371, 9th Cir.; 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 521).



Insurer Says No Defense Owed For Defective Mattress Class Action Complaint
SAN FRANCISCO - A California federal judge erred in finding that an insurer has a duty to defend its insured against an underlying consumer class action lawsuit alleging that the insured's mattresses were defective because the underlying suit does not allege any claims for bodily injury or property damage, the insurer argues in a Jan, 17 brief filed in the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals (Hartford Fire Insurance Co. v. Tempur-Sealy International Inc., et al., No. 16-16056, 9th Cir.).



Policyholders: Compound Interest May Not Be Charged Without Signed Document
SAN FRANCISCO - An insurer may not charge compound interest on loans secured by life insurance policies without a signed agreement pursuant to an initiative measure passed by California voters in 1918, called the "1918 Initiative," two policyholders argue in a Sept. 15 appellant reply brief filed in the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals (Brenda G. Martin, et al. v. Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, No. 16-15690, 9th Cir.).