Nevada Now Has a Court of Appeals! How Does it Work?

Nevada Now Has a Court of Appeals! How Does it Work?

Until 2014, all appeals from decisions of the Nevada District Courts were heard by the Nevada Supreme Court.  (Nevada is broken into eleven judicial districts; Clark County, which includes Las Vegas, is in the Eighth Judicial District.)  The case of Figueroa v. IDS Prop. and Cas. Ins. Co. provides a good example of how the trial, appellate and supreme court works in Nevada. It is what is known as a “push down” model.

In 2015, David Figueroa, an off duty Metropolitan Police Officer, was heading home on his motorcycle and was involved in a serious accident with a vehicle, resulting in serious injury.  The adverse driver was underinsured and Mr. Figueroa presented a claim to American National Insurance Company, which provided UM/UIM coverage for the motorcycle.  Mr. Figueroa then presented a claim to IDS Property and Casualty, which provided coverage of $250,000 per person/$500,000 per accident and $5,000 in med pay on his two automobiles. Mr. Figueroa demanded the coverages for the two autos be stacked for a total of $500,000 plus $10,000 in med pay.

The IDS policy contained anti-stacking language plus a step down provision that stated if the accident involved a vehicle not insured by IDS, the coverage would revert to the statutory minimum of $15,000.  IDS paid Mr. Figueroa $15,000 and filed an action for declaratory relief as to the remaining limits.

On February 5, 2016, the late Judge Susan Scann validated the IDS anti-stacking language and found the step down provision to be proper under NRS 690B.020(b) and NRS 485.185(a).  Mr. Figueroa appealed to the Nevada Supreme Court.  On April 5, 2017, pursuant to Nev. Const. Art. 6 §4, which authorizes the Nevada Supreme Court to transfer cases to the Nevada Court of Appeals, the case was transferred to the Court of Appeals.

Without entertaining oral argument, the Court of Appeals issued an opinion upholding the trial court’s decision.  Figueroa v. IDS Prop. & Cas. Co., 2017 Nev. App. Unpub. LEXIS 440, 2017 WL 2734093.  Generally speaking, decisions by the Court of Appeals cannot be appealed to the Nevada Supreme Court.  Parties can petition the Nevada Supreme Court, however, under the following circumstances:  (1) if the question presents a case of first impression of general statewide significance; (2) if the decision is in conflict with a prior decision by the Court of Appeals; or (3) if the case involves fundamental issues of statewide importance.

Mr. Figueroa filed a petition for review pursuant to NRAP 49(B)(a) but the Nevada Supreme Court determined this case did not meet any of the three criteria.  On September 28, 2017 the Court issued an Order Denying Petition for Review.  Case closed.

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