533 F.3d 20 (1st Cir. 2008), 07-2408, AGA Fishing Group Ltd. v. Brown & Brown, Inc.

Docket Nº:07-2408.
Citation:533 F.3d 20
Party Name:AGA FISHING GROUP LIMITED, Plaintiff, Appellant, v. BROWN & BROWN, INC., et al., Defendants, Appellees.
Case Date:July 10, 2008
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the First Circuit

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533 F.3d 20 (1st Cir. 2008)

AGA FISHING GROUP LIMITED, Plaintiff, Appellant,


BROWN & BROWN, INC., et al., Defendants, Appellees.

No. 07-2408.

United States Court of Appeals, First Circuit.

July 10, 2008

Heard Feb. 6, 2008.

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Joseph G. Abromovitz with whom Marsha A. Morello and the Law Office of Joseph G. Abromovitz, P.C. were on brief for appellant.

Michael J. Stone with whom Terri L. Pastori and Peabody & Arnold LLP were on brief for appellees.

Before LYNCH, Chief Judge, TASHIMA,[*] Senior Circuit Judge, and LIPEZ, Circuit Judge.

TASHIMA, Senior Circuit Judge.

Plaintiff AGA Fishing Group Limited (“AGA" ) was forced to sell the Georgie J, a scallop fishing vessel, and its scallop license to settle claims against AGA after a crewman suffered debilitating injuries aboard the vessel and recovered a substantial award under the Jones Act. AGA was insured through Defendant Flagship Group, Limited (“Flagship" ), but the seaman's award far exceeded the Protection & Indemnity (“P & I" ) coverage in AGA's policy, which was sold to AGA by Flagship. AGA sued Flagship and Defendant Brown & Brown, Inc., Flagship's parent company, contending that Flagship owed it a duty to recommend an adequate level of P & I coverage and breached that duty when it did not so recommend. The district court granted Defendants' motion for summary judgment on all claims. Because AGA presents no facts evincing a duty on Defendants' part to ensure that AGA was adequately covered, we affirm. 1

I. Background

Because AGA appeals from a grant of summary judgment, in reciting the facts, we draw all reasonable inferences in favor of AGA, the non-moving party. See Ramos-Santiago v. United Parcel Serv., 524 F.3d 120, 122 (1st Cir.2008). George Jones (“Jones" ) started scallop fishing in New Bedford, Massachusetts, in the early 1960s, when he was fifteen years old. In 1987, he and his wife, Antonette Jones, formed AGA and purchased a scallop boat, the Victor, and an accompanying scallop license. Under the previous owner, the Victor carried $1,000,000 in P & I insurance through Neptune Mutual. After acquiring the vessel, AGA decided to stay with the same insurance company and agent, Ronald Walsh (“Walsh" ), and continue the same level of coverage.

Some time later, AGA discontinued its insurance policy with Neptune Mutual and purchased a policy from Mariners Insurance. AGA continued the same level of P & I coverage after the switch. Jones assumed that the new agent would tell him if he needed more coverage. In the late 1990s, Jones discovered that his original insurance agent, Walsh, had left Neptune

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Insurance and was now working for Flagship. On its website, Flagship advertised itself as having “the expertise necessary to offer the appropriate insurance services for the maritime industry" and claimed to “systematically and comprehensively examine [its clients'] maritime exposures." The Joneses, however, never viewed the website. Rather, Jones liked Walsh and trusted him. Their personal relationship and the fact that Walsh quoted a lower premium for the same coverage precipitated AGA's move from Mariners Insurance to Flagship in 1999.

AGA kept the same level of P & I coverage on the vessel after moving its insurance business to Flagship, again assuming that its agent, now Walsh, would recommend additional coverage, if necessary. According to Walsh, the Joneses “didn't understand insurance" and needed a lot...

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