Country Mutual Insurance Co. et al. v. Vibram USA et al. (DAR-25491).

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, the state’s highest court, agreed to review a decision concerning insurance coverage of trademark claims and the right of the insurance companies to recoup defense costs once the court determines that the underlying suit did not trigger coverage. Shoe maker Vibram was sued by the family of the late Olympic marathoner Abebe Bikila for unlawfully obtaining a trademark for a shoe using his name. Vibram’s insurers, Country Mutual Insurance Co. and Maryland Casualty Co., initially agreed to defend the case subject to a reservation of rights to challenge their obligation to cover the suit, and for some period of time paid for the defense. Judge Kaplan of the Massachusetts Superior Court subsequently found the insurance contracts were not triggered, but denied the insurance company the ability to recover defense costs they had already paid because the contracts did not expressly provide for a right to reimbursement. On appeal, the insurance companies seek reimbursement under a theory of unjust enrichment.

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