In a recent decision, the Rhode Island Superior Court ruled that claims brought against a dissolved entity’s insurers are barred pursuant to R.I. General Laws § 27-7-2. This statute bars direct actions against insurers of alleged tortfeasors absent very limited exceptions.
In Shirley D’Amico, et al. v. A.O. Smith Corp., et al. (C.A. PC12-0403), the Rhode Island Superior Court examined whether one of those exceptions to R.I. General Laws § 27-7-2, which allows direct actions against the insurers of a bankrupt entity, similarly permits a direct action against the insurers of a dissolved entity. The underlying facts of the case were straightforward. Plaintiff alleged that her husband, Frank D’Amico, died from malignant mesothelioma proximately caused by occupational exposure to asbestos. This exposure, according to Plaintiff, took place during Mr. D’Amico’s service in the United States Navy and his subsequent employment at various golf courses. Plaintiff filed the original complaint on January 25, 2012. After multiple amendments, Plaintiff filed a fifth amended complaint on June 11, 2015, to include Grover S. Wormer Company (“Wormer”) as a defendant. In accordance with Michigan Corporate Code, Wormer was dissolved as of January 10, 2008. As such, on February 28, 2018, the Court dismissed Plaintiff’s claims against Wormer, finding they were barred by the laws of State of Michigan.