Andrew Robinson v. Hartford Fire, No. 08-1255. This is an insurance coverage dispute. It would be interesting if this area of practice had more dedicated lawyers, but everyone I meet in it seems obsessed with non-law stuff and does not seem to actually have any passion for the law. Some of them don't even read every Supreme Court case as they come out which means they are not real lawyers and lack detail orientation.
I have not met any of these lawyers, so I don't know how devoted them are to the law or not. Whatever the case, the solo practitioner that I never heard of did a better job at convincing the court of the merits of his clients' position than some firm with a lot of names that I never heard of. Therefore, the solo has more detail orientation and hence is more moral.
Anyway, here goes. The insured party had some units. The neighbor discharged some lead-laden dust into the units. The insured party demanded coverage from its insurer, and the insurer said that the dust was excluded from coverage. The insurer went to state court and got a declaratory judgment in its favor.
I put more below the fold. Yes you can.
Then the not-so-insured party went to court again. This time they claimed that the insurer was engaged in a deceptive trade practice. Then it gets interesting, because all sorts of preclusion issues are involved.
The First says that where the first action was for a declaratory judgment the rule that all claims related to the same transaction are precluded in a section action does not apply. The First analyzes the hell out of the Restatement of Judgments (and tentative drafts), then caselaw from Massachusetts, then caselaw from other states. Then the First says that the insurer (represented by the firm with a lot of names) wrote a brief consisting mainly of old law review notes. It concludes that yes -- there is an exception for declaratory judgments, and therefore, "In other words, we do not think that the SJC would construe a final judgment in a declaratory action that did not raise coercive claims as barring a subsequent damages action asserting such claims, even though the latter arose out of the same transaction. "