A lost insurance policy meets Twombly and Iqbal

Cardigan Mountain Sch. v. N.H. Ins. Co., No. 14-2182 (1st Cir. May 27, 2015).

A view from Mt. Cardigan, facing west (courtesy of Sarunas Burdulis / flickr)

A view from Mt. Cardigan, facing west (courtesy of Sarunas Burdulis / flickr)

What happens when you believe that you were insured but can’t find the policy? That’s the situation that Cardigan Mountain School faces here. The School received a claim based on events that happened way back in 1967 and 1968, and tendered that claim to the New Hampshire Insurance Company. The insurance company said it had no duty to defend the school because, like the school itself, it couldn’t find the general liability policy under which the school was insured. The school sued.

The First Circuit holds that the school’s complaint sufficiently alleges that an insurance policy existed. In the process, it usefully analyzes the Supreme Court’s rulings in Iqbal and Twombly. The real question, as the suit proceeds beyond the pleadings stage, is whether the school can unearth the evidence that it will need to survive summary judgment or to prove its case at trial.

The First Circuit notes that it has “been given no details” about the claim that the school received in 2013, beyond the fact that the claim is “based on events that allegedly occurred during the 1967–1968 school year.” What kind of claim against a school can lie dormant for decades? Readers may draw their own reasonable inferences.