Pilgrim’s Pride Corp. settled claims that its insurance carrier unjustifiably refused to pay a significant portion of coverage owed to the food company arising out of a Listeria outbreak. The insurance company that agreed to provide coverage to Pilgrim’s insurer for any bad faith claims successfully mounted against it has been granted a declaratory judgment of no liability. Cont’l Cas. Co. v. Ace Am. Ins. Co., No. 07-958 (S.D.N.Y., decided March 31, 2009).

Apparently, Pilgrim’s insurer agreed to the essential terms of a settlement proposed by a mediator before seeking Continental’s consent to settle. Under Texas law, settlement agreements are legally enforceable when the parties have agreed on the amount of consideration to be paid and the release of claims. While Pilgrim’s insurer made minor modifications to the agreement after notifying Continental, the court found that the mediator’s proposal was a binding and enforceable settlement agreement. Because Pilgrim’s insurer did not receive prior written consent, the court ruled that Continental had no liability for the Pilgrim’s Pride settlement.

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For decades, manufacturers, distributors and retailers at every link in the food chain have come to Shook, Hardy & Bacon to partner with a legal team that understands the issues they face in today's evolving food production industry. Shook attorneys work with some of the world's largest food, beverage and agribusiness companies to establish preventative measures, conduct internal audits, develop public relations strategies, and advance tort reform initiatives.