Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Noranda Aluminum Holding Co. v. XL Insurance America, Inc.

Superior Court of Delaware

October 7, 2019

NORANDA ALUMINUM HOLDING COMPANY, Plaintiff,
v.
XL INSURANCE AMERICA, INC, ET AL, Defendants.

          Submitted: August 2, 2019

         Defendants' Motion for a Judgment as a Matter of Law or a New Trial GRANTED IN PART - DENIED IN PART

          David J. Baldwin, Esquire; Carla M. Jones, Esquire; Potter Anderson & Corroon LLP. Attorneys for Plaintiff.

          David B. Goodwin, Esquire; Christine S. Haskett, Esquire; Nicholas M. Lampros, Esquire; Rebecca A. Jacobs, Esquire; Covington & Burling LLP, Attorneys for Plaintiff.

          John L. Reed, Esquire; Matthew Denn, Esquire; DLA Piper LLP, Attorneys for Defendants.

          Jonathan D. Mutch, Esquire; David E. Marder, Esquire; Matthew P. Cardosi, Esquire; Robins Kaplan LLP. Attorneys for Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          William C. Carpenter, Jr. Judge.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Before the Court is Defendant Insurers' ("Defendants") Motion for a Judgment as a Matter of Law or a New Trial. Defendants' Motion relates to matters on which the Court previously ruled in its decision on summary judgment, in the various motions in limine, or at the trial. The reasons for those decisions are set forth in those Opinions or in the Court's comments during the trial. While the Court appreciates that Defendants believe those decisions were incorrect, with the exception of the issue of electricity which the Court will discuss below, the Court is convinced that there is no basis to change the jury's verdict in this matter. Defendants were given a full opportunity to present their case and to convince the jury that their position as to Noranda's ("Plaintiff) recovery was correct. This includes attempting to convince the jury that no coverage was warranted due to the financial difficulty facing Plaintiff. The jury decided to give more credibility to the witnesses and experts of Plaintiff and that was clearly within the jury's province to do. Candidly, the Court is not surprised by the verdict in light of testimony provided by Defendants' witnesses, which at times displayed such an unfettered bias it undermined their credibility. In any event, the Motion for a Judgment as a Matter of Law or a New Trial will be denied except for the changes noted further in this Opinion.

         II. FACTUAL & PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         The Court has rehashed the factual background of this case several times in prior Opinions, and it will only provide a brief recitation of the facts most relevant to the pending Motion.

         This litigation stems from a property insurance policy ("the Policy") that Defendants issued to Plaintiff for the period of May 18, 2015 to May 18, 2016. The Policy included coverage for property damage and resulting time element losses at Noranda's aluminum plant in New Madrid, Missouri ("New Madrid Plant").

         On August 4, 2015, a casthouse explosion occurred at the New Madrid Plant, "causing extensive property damage to the facility and equipment, necessitating significant repair costs, and resulting in lost revenue due to business interruption while production was halted by the explosion and the damage it caused."[1] After the explosion, Noranda tendered a claim to Defendants for the property damage and time element losses purportedly caused by the accident.[2] However, Defendants refused to pay most of Plaintiff s time element losses.[3]

         Several months later, on January 7, 2016, two of three potlines at the New Madrid Plant froze due to a switchgear failure, which also caused "a sizeable time element loss."[4] Plaintiff subsequently tendered another claim to Defendants for the potline freeze, and the insurers refused to make any payment for Noranda's related time element losses.[5]

         On February 8, 2016, Noranda filed a petition for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.[6]Approximately one month later, on March 12, 2016, Plaintiff idled the New Madrid Plant to comply with the terms of its debtor-in-possession financing. In November 2016, Noranda ultimately sold the New Madrid Plant "as part of a bankruptcy restructuring that resulted in the liquidation of certain ... assets."[7]

         On January 6, 2017, Plaintiff filed its Complaint against Defendants, alleging that they "breached the Policies by failing to make the required payments for Noranda's time element losses."[8] The parties went to trial, and on July 3, 2019, a jury awarded Noranda $14, 762, 187.00 in time element damages for the casthouse explosion and $20, 727, 946.50 for the potline freeze.[9] As a result, Defendants have filed a Motion for Judgment as a Matter of Law or a New Trial.

         III. MOTION FOR A JUDGMENT AS A MATTER OF LAW

         A. Standard of Review

         Pursuant to Superior Court Civil Rule 50(b):

Whenever a motion for a judgment as a matter of law made at the close of all the evidence is denied or for any reason is not granted, the Court is deemed to have submitted the action to the jury subject to a later determination of the legal questions raised by the motion ... If a verdict was returned, the Court may ... allow the judgment to stand or may reopen the judgment and either order a new trial or direct the entry of judgment as a matter of law.[10]

         Under Rule 50, this Court is required to view the evidence in a light most favorable to the nonmoving party.[11] In order to grant Defendants' Motion, this Court must find that '"there is no legally sufficient evidentiary basis for a reasonable jury to find for'" Plaintiff.[12] Thus, "the factual findings of a jury will not be disturbed if there is any competent evidence upon which the verdict could reasonably be based."[13]

         B. ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.