Cornhusker Casualty Company v Skaj

Cornhusker filed a declaratory judgment action seeking a declaration that there was no insurance coverage for the state case defendant which Skaj had a default judgment against. The district court granted summary judgment to Skaj, denied his motion for attorney fees and granted judgment to Cornhusker as to various claims by the defendant in the underlying state case. The panel affirmed. It first held that Cornhusker’s arguments about standing were actually arguments about coverage and rejected them. It next predicated that Wyoming would apply the 10th Circuit’s rule that when an insurer defends a suit without reserving its rights, which happened here, then it is estopped form denying coverage even when coverage is obviously not available. The panel reasoned that fairness underlies Wyoming’s approach to estoppel and that it is unfair to lure a defendant into surrendering control of the case then leave him without coverage if liability is found. Turning to the state case defendant’s claims, the panel held that Cornhusker had a reasonable basis to deny coverage as it is unclear whether the defendant had permission to use the truck for personal outings and the only possibly negligent acts by Cornhusker were failing to more vigorously find the defendant before denying coverage which is insufficient to prove procedural bad faith in Wyoming. The panel finally affirmed the denial of attorney fees as Skaj failed to object to the denial, failed to present any evidence below and under Wyoming law the same reasoning which defeats the bad faith claims likewise defeats the attorney fee claim.

United States v Mann

Mann appealed his conviction for use of a firearm in a violent felony arguing constructive amendment of the indictment. The panel affirmed holding there was no error in not requiring the jury to find that Mann discharged a firearm as Mann admitting discharging the rifle used in the crime and there was no error in leaving out certain parts of the indictment as they were not elements of the crime and the United States Supreme Court and 10th Circuit both have held that leaving out language in an indictment which is not an element of a the charged crime is not a constructive amendment.