Two new NM Court of Appeals decisions — paternity and insurance coverage edition

Yesterday the New Mexico Court of Appeals issued two decisions:

1.  The Court held that the personal representative of a deceased man (who died six months before the mother gave birth to his putative child) had standing to seek a determination of paternity under the New Mexico Uniform Parentage Act. The opinion in Estate of Swift v. Bullington was written by Judge Linda Vanzi.

2.  In an insurance coverage dispute, the Court held that State Farm had no obligation to provide a defense to its insured. The policy at issue said that State Farm would provide a defense for claims of malicious abuse of process. The insured was sued for a number of claims, but not malicious abuse of process. The insured argued that State Farm was still obligated to provide a defense, because the plaintiff’s complaint alleged that the insured had used the threat of baseless litigation to accomplish its ends. The Court of Appeals noted that a mere threat to engage in litigation does not constitute malicious abuse of process, which requires some that some improper act be committed in a judicial proceeding. Thus, State Farm had no duty to defend.

The Court’s opinion in Hinkle v. State Farm Fire & Casualty Company was written by Judge James Wechsler.

UPDATE: I forgot to insert a link to the Estate of Swift opinion in my original post. That is fixed now. Thanks to David Walther for bringing that error to my attention.

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