Great Lakes Insurance SE v. Andersson, No. 21-1648 (1st Cir. 2023)

The First Circuit reversed the judgment of the district court ruling that Insured’s claim of unfair claim settlement practices in violation of Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 176D and 93A was barred by the choice-of-law provision of the marine insurance policy he purchased from Great Lakes Insurance SE (GLI), holding that the district court erred.

Insurer, the insurer of Insured’s forty-seven-foot catamaran sailing vessel, brought a declaratory judgment action to determine whether the “constructive total loss” of Insured’s vessel was covered under the relevant policy. Insured brought a counterclaim alleging violations of Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 176D, 3(9) and ch. 93A, 9(3A). The district court ruled that pursuant to the policy’s choice-of-law provision, New York law barred Insured’s Massachusetts counterclaim because New York law does not provide for a chapters 176D and 93A claim. The First Circuit reversed, holding (1) Insured’s statutorily-based counterclaim was extra-contractual; (2) the plain language of the choice-of-law provision was not broad enough to unambiguously encompass an extra-contractual claim; and (3) any ambiguity in the policy must be construed in favor of Insured.