CINICO lawsuit continues after three years

Three years after a U.S.-based management firm sued the Cayman Islands National Insurance Company, CINICO continues to fight the case in the U.S. federal court.

On Tuesday, a judge in the court in Ohio issued a ruling agreeing with the management company Simplifi on one point in the lawsuit and countersuit: that the company did not have to return more than $230,000 to CINICO. However, the judge urged the parties to mediate their way through the rest of the claims.

The judge refused CINICO’s request to dismiss all of the claims in the lawsuit.

Simplifi sued CINICO in July 2013, saying the insurance company did not end the contract in writing as required, with a formal termination letter. Instead, the company sent an email.

Without a formal letter, Simplifi argues, the contract automatically renewed. The suit notes that Simplifi executives told CINICO Chief Executive Officer Lonny Tibbetts that he had to send a formal letter, but Mr. Tibbetts did not respond for two months. Then, once the contract renewed, CINICO stopped paying its bills.

The dispute devolved into a lawsuit, filed by Simplifi, and counterclaims from CINICO in the Ohio court. The parties have been going back and forth in the courts for more than three years. On Tuesday, the judge issued an order on competing motions for summary judgment that could have ended some of the legal dispute.

U.S. federal court Judge Michael Watson denied all of CINICO’s requests, and granted one of Simplifi’s requests but not a second. Most notably, the judge granted Simplifi’s request on more than $230,000 that CINICO said it paid, but for which the management company did not do the work. The judge ruled that Simplifi does not have to return that money.

The rest of the decisions, the judge wrote in a 23-page ruling, involve disputes that cannot be decided through a motion for summary judgment. The judge stated in his ruling, “At this stage, the Court cannot weigh the parties’ competing evidence or the credibility of competing testimony. The type of fact-finding is inappropriate on summary judgment.”

At the end of the order, Judge Watson wrote, “The Court encourages the parties to engage in good faith settlement negotiations.”

Attorneys for Simplifi declined to comment since the case is ongoing. Mr. Tibbetts did not respond to requests for comment as of press time.