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Besel’s Home Improvement Company is a 5th generation, family-owned business. We offer affordable residential HVAC services, including: furnace (heating) and air-conditioning (cooling) service and much more. Serving the Leavenworth, Lansing, Basehor, Tonganoxie, Atchison, and western Wyandotte County areas since 1909.
At the reasonableness hearing, the trial court specifically addressed the Chaussee criteria. The court found Besel could likely prove the accident caused him severe injuries; Ralston's liability was clear, absolute, and indefensible; the risk and expense to Ralston of continued litigation was extreme and Ralston could not pay any judgment against him; Besel had thoroughly investigated and prepared his case; the settlement was reached through arm's length negotiations; and there were no other parties to the litigation whose interests were affected. Once the court determined the covenant judgment was reasonable, the burden shifted to Viking to show the settlement was the product of fraud or collusion. Having failed to meet this burden, Viking was liable for the full settlement amount. Insurers can avoid this result in the future by acting in good faith. In this case, from the date Viking became aware of Ralston's accident until the date prior to Viking notifying Riccelli it refused to settle Besel's claim within policy limits, it was within Viking's power to limit its liability by acting in good faith. By choosing to act in bad faith, Viking accepted that it would injure its insured and be held responsible for that injury. Had Viking simply tendered the policy limits to Besel, whose injuries clearly exceeded those limits, this lawsuit would not have occurred. Because Viking acted in bad faith, Viking is liable for the entire amount of the settlement.