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Summary Judgment in ‘Vanishing Cow’ Bad Faith Case

January 2017

JMD FL 1DBV 3Jim Dieterich and Dmitry Vilner recently won summary judgment for their client in a “vanishing cow” insurance bad faith case.  The plaintiff, a rancher, had leased a pasture for his cattle to graze on.  He alleged that, over several years, hundreds of his cows simply went missing.  Near the end of his lease, the plaintiff purchased livestock coverage from Jim and Dmitry’s client, an insurance company.  A few months later, the plaintiff filed an insurance claim for stolen cattle.  The client investigated the claim, relying in large part on the plaintiff’s own extensive investigation (which included, among other things, hiring a private plane to fly over the pasture in hopes of finding the missing cattle).  When the client could not find any evidence that any cattle were stolen, it denied the claim.  The plaintiff then sued the client on common law and statutory bad faith claims.  Jim and Dmitry successfully argued that the plaintiff could not prove that he suffered a loss covered by the insurance policy, or that any such loss happened during the policy period.

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