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    Massachusetts Appeals Court Holds Upholds Summary Judgment on Behalf of Insurer Based on a Prior Acts Exclusion and Inaccurate Statements in the Policy Application

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    The Appeals Court of Massachusetts recently issued a coverage decision captioned Hurley v. Comproni, et al., 85 Mass. App. Ct. 1101, 3 N.E.3d 615 (Mass. App. Ct. 2014) (unpublished) (available here).  The decision stemmed from an insured lawyer’s repeated failure to complete service in an underlying personal injury action, resulting in that action being time-barred.  The insured’s client then sued her for legal malpractice.  The insurer was subsequently added as a defendant to the malpractice suit.

    The insurer moved for summary judgment, arguing that both the “prior acts” exclusion and the insured’s misrepresentations in the policy application barred coverage.  The trial court agreed, and the Appeals Court affirmed on summary judgment.  The panel first determined that while the insured’s inattention continued after the date set forth in the “prior acts” exclusion, the inattention began long before that date; moreover, the record was devoid of any facts demonstrating that the insured’s post-date conduct could have mattered.  The panel next held that the insured’s failure to disclose the potential malpractice claim in the policy application served to void the policy (“[The insured’s] exposure to a potential malpractice claim was obvious, and she had a duty to disclose it to the insurer as part of the application process.”).

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