Daugherty v. Allstate Ins. Co.

Citation55 P.3d 224
Decision Date28 March 2002
Docket NumberNo. 01CA0130.,01CA0130.
PartiesMichael E. DAUGHERTY, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. ALLSTATE INSURANCE COMPANY, Defendant-Appellee.
CourtCourt of Appeals of Colorado

Thomas J. Tomazin, P.C., Thomas J. Tomazin, Englewood, Colorado, for Plaintiff-Appellant.

Harris, Karstaedt, Jamison & Powers, P.C., A. Peter Gregory, Heather A. Salg, Englewood, Colorado, for Defendant-Appellee.

Opinion by Judge NIETO.

Plaintiff, Michael E. Daugherty, appeals the judgment dismissing as time barred his complaint against defendant, Allstate Insurance Company. We affirm in part and reverse in part.

In July 1996, plaintiff's car collided with a vehicle occupied by a couple (the Sauters) after plaintiff ran a red light in an attempt to elude police. Plaintiff had an automobile insurance policy with Allstate at the time of the accident. Allstate informed plaintiff by letter, dated July 30, 1996, that it was denying all coverage for the accident based on a provision in plaintiff's policy that excluded liability coverage for damages resulting from intentional or criminal acts by the insured.

In December 1996, the Sauters sued plaintiff, alleging claims for injuries they sustained in the accident. The Sauters provided Allstate with a copy of the complaint. No responsive pleadings were filed by or on behalf of plaintiff, and default entered. After a hearing on July 9, 1998 to determine damages, the trial court entered two default judgments against plaintiff.

Plaintiff then assigned to the Sauters all rights and claims he had against Allstate arising out of his automobile insurance policy. See Bashor v. Northland Insurance Co., 29 Colo.App. 81, 480 P.2d 864 (1970),


177 Colo. 463, 494 P.2d 1292 (1972).

On July 7, 2000, plaintiff filed a complaint against Allstate alleging claims for breach of contract, bad faith breach of insurance contract, and exemplary damages. Allstate moved for summary judgment, asserting, among other defenses, that plaintiff's claims were barred by the statute of limitations. The trial court concluded that plaintiff's claims were time barred and granted the motion.

Plaintiff contends the trial court erred in granting Allstate's motion for summary judgment because his claims were not barred by the statute of limitations. Specifically, he argues that the court erred in concluding that all of his claims accrued on July 30, 1996, the date of Allstate's letter denying all coverage. We agree that some of plaintiff's claims are not time barred.

An order granting summary judgment is reviewed de novo. Summary judgment is a drastic remedy and should be granted only when the pleadings, affidavits, depositions, or admissions establish that there is no genuine issue of material fact and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Hyden v. Farmers Insurance Exchange, 20 P.3d 1222 (Colo.App.2000).

"Generally, before a statute of limitations begins to run, there must be some damage which would entitle a plaintiff to maintain a cause of action. The procedure to be utilized in determining when a cause of action accrues is to ascertain when litigation could first have been successfully maintained." Flatiron Paving Co. v. Great Southwest Fire Insurance Co., 812 P.2d 668, 670 (Colo.App.1990) (citation omitted).

A cause of action for breach of contract accrues on the date the breach is discovered or should have been discovered by the exercise of reasonable diligence. Section 13-80-108(6), C.R.S.2001. "[A] claim for relief in actions arising out of non-performance of contract obligations accrues at the time of the failure to do the thing required to be done under the contract." Goeddel v. Aircraft Finance, Inc., 152 Colo. 419, 424, 382 P.2d 812, 815 (1963).

A claim for bad faith breach of an insurance contract sounds in tort and accrues from the date on which both the injury and its cause are known or should have been known through the exercise of reasonable diligence. Section 13-80-108(1), C.R.S.2001; Harmon v. Fred S. James & Co., 899 P.2d 258 (Colo.App.1994).

Plaintiff's breach of contract and bad faith breach of insurance contract claims both involve allegations that Allstate breached two separate contractual duties. Plaintiff alleged that Allstate breached its duty to defend him in the action filed by the Sauters and also breached its duty to indemnify him from the liability he incurred as a result of the judgment entered against him in that action. The duty to defend and the duty to indemnify are separate and distinct. Hecla Mining Co. v. New Hampshire Insurance Co., 811 P.2d 1083, 1086 n. 5 (Colo.1991). Thus, these two duties should be viewed separately. See TerraMatrix, Inc. v. United States Fire Insurance Co., 939 P.2d 483 (Colo.App.1997)

. Therefore, each claim must be examined regarding each separate alleged breach of duty.


Plaintiff contends that his breach of contract claim did not accrue until the Sauters' judgment became final on July 24, 1998, and therefore, his complaint filed on July 7, 2000, was timely under the three-year statute of limitation, § 13-8-101(1)(a), C.R.S.2001. We conclude that part of this claim was timely filed.


An action for breach of a duty to defend in an insurance contract arises when a third party makes a claim against the insured alleging facts that might fall within the policy's coverage. Hecla Mining Co. v. New Hampshire Insurance Co., supra. Therefore, a duty to defend action arises, at the latest, when the insured has been named in a formal complaint making such allegations. Farmers Insurance Exchange v. American Manufacturers Mutual Insurance Co., 897 P.2d 880 (Colo.App.1995).

Here, plaintiff could have maintained a cause of action against Allstate for breach of contract based on failure to defend at least when the Sauters named him in their complaint. At that time, absent some exclusion in the policy, Allstate would have been obligated to defend him and had already informed him that it would not be providing any coverage regarding the accident.

A contention similar to plaintiff's argument that his claim for breach of contract based on Allstate's duty to defend did not arise until the final judgment was entered against him, was rejected in Farmers Insurance Exchange v. American Manufacturers Mutual Insurance Co., supra.

We likewise reject this argument.

Further, plaintiff's reliance on Vanderloop v. Progressive Casualty Insurance Co., 769 F.Supp. 1172 (D.Colo.1991), is misplaced. There, the court concluded that the plaintiff's claim against an insurance company for failure to settle did not accrue until final judgment was entered because it was only then that the plaintiff's injuries became known. That case has no application here because plaintiff's claim is for failure to defend, not for failure to settle.

Accordingly, plaintiff's claim for breach of contract based on the failure to defend accrued, at the latest, in December 1996 when the Sauters filed their complaint against plaintiff and plaintiff was on notice that Allstate was denying all coverage under the policy. Regardless of whether the statute of limitations for this claim expired in two years as Allstate contends or three years as plaintiff contends, his breach of contract claim based on failure to defend was time barred under either scenario because his complaint was not filed until July 2000, more than three and one-half years later.


With respect to plaintiff's claim for breach of contract based on Allstate's failure to indemnify, Flatiron Paving Co. v. Great Southwest Fire Insurance Co., supra,

is instructive. There, on facts very similar to this case, a division of this court held that a claim for failure to indemnify does not arise until a judgment is entered against the insured. The division stated:

Although at the time Flatiron brought suit against [the insured, the insured] might have sued Southwest for its failure to defend, that claim is not involved here. Under the statute in existence at the time, [the insured] would have had no basis for suing Southwest for failure to indemnify until [the insured] had incurred damages.
The judgment against [the insured] is dated November 19, 1984. It was not until then that the insured or its assignee could have brought a failure to indemnify action against Southwest.

Flatiron Paving, supra, 812 P.2d at 670.

Here, the judgment against plaintiff was not entered until July 9, 1998. Consequently, plaintiff's claim for indemnification did not accrue until that date. See Hecla Mining Co. v. New Hampshire Insurance Co., supra; Flatiron Paving, supra.

Again, while the parties dispute which statute of limitations is applicable, there is no dispute that plaintiff's claim for breach of contract based on failure to indemnify is not time...

To continue reading

Request your trial
22 cases
  • Loudin v. Nat'l Liab. & Fire Ins. Co., 35763.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • October 24, 2011
    ...its insured.’ ” Noland v. Virginia Ins. Reciprocal, 224 W.Va. 372, 386, 686 S.E.2d 23, 37 (2009) (quoting Daugherty v. Allstate Ins. Co., 55 P.3d 224, 228 (Colo.App.2002)). 10. For purposes of this discussion we will refer to the legal theories collectively as “bad faith” claims. 11. Pursua......
  • Kidneigh v. Unum Life Ins. Co of America, 02-1277.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (10th Circuit)
    • October 3, 2003
    ...Pham v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 70 P.3d 567, 571 (Colo.Ct.App.2003) (emphasis supplied) (citing Daugherty v. Allstate Ins. Co., 55 P.3d 224 (Colo.Ct.App. 2002), and Flickinger v. Ninth Dist. Page 1194 Credit Ass'n, 824 P.2d 19 (Colo.Ct.App. 1991)). Accordingly, Colorado courts have ......
  • Noland v. Virginia Ins. Reciprocal, 34702.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of West Virginia
    • September 24, 2009
    ...A few courts find that the statute of limitations begins to run when an insurer denies coverage. See Daugherty v. Allstate Ins. Co., 55 P.3d 224 (Colo.Ct.App.2002), superseded by statute on other grounds as recognized in by Brodeur v. American Home Assurance Co., 169 P.3d 139 (Colo.2007); A......
  • Brodeur v. American Home Assur. Co., 06SC499.
    • United States
    • Colorado Supreme Court of Colorado
    • October 9, 2007
    ...This injury occurred regardless of the ultimate outcome in the workers' compensation proceeding. See also Daugherty v. Allstate Ins. Co., 55 P.3d 224, 228 (Colo.App.2002) (holding that the plaintiff's bad faith tort claim based on the insurer's breach of its duty to defend accrued no later ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT