Tonkon Torp Wins Appellate Victory in Auto Insurer Case

Tonkon Torp recently achieved a complete appellate win on behalf of its client, Leif Hansen, in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

In 2018, Tonkon Torp attorneys Steve Olson, Paul Conable, and Meg Houlihan represented Hansen individually and in a proposed class action against his auto insurer, GEICO, for refusing to pay for digital scans of his truck as part of the truck’s repair following a collision. Hansen sued for breach of contract under his insurance policy and breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing. The federal district court dismissed the complaint for failure to state a claim.

That dismissal prompted an appeal to the Ninth Circuit, which was led by Bob Koch and Meg Houlihan. Bob and Meg prepared the briefs, and Bob argued the appeal in May. They told a compelling story about the intersection of modern car technology and auto insurance. They argued that, in an age where every modern car combines digital and mechanical engineering, diagnostic scans are part and parcel of every collision repair.

The Ninth Circuit reversed and remanded the district court’s dismissal on each claim. The court held that the district court committed reversible error in dismissing the breach of contract claim without giving Hansen an opportunity to amend his complaint with additional allegations of damage under the policy.  The court also held that Hansen’s complaint sufficiently pleaded a breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, where car manufacturers recommend diagnostic scans after every collision and GEICO conceded that it sometimes pays for scans.

As a result of the appeals win, the original lawsuit will proceed in the district court. Tonkon Torp will continue to represent Hansen and the proposed class to try and ensure that everyone who drives a modern car can receive a safe and complete repair of their car following a collision.

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