Inability to Confirm Coverage Supports Setting Aside Insured’s Default Judgment on Grounds of Extrinsic Mistake

Gavel illustration

Christopher Kendrick and Valerie A. Moore analyze the case Mechling v. Asbestos Defendants.

January 21, 2019
Christopher Kendrick & Valerie A. Moore - Haight Brown & Bonesteel LLP

In Mechling v. Asbestos Defendants (No. A150132, filed 12/11/18), a California appeals court affirmed the trial court’s grant of an insurer’s motion to set aside default judgments entered against its defunct insured pursuant to the trial court’s inherent, equitable power to set aside defaults on the ground of extrinsic mistake, thereby allowing the insurer to intervene and defend its own interests in the case.

In Mechling, Fireman’s Fund insured Associated Insulation of California, which was named as a defendant in asbestos litigation filed in 2009. Associated had ceased operating in 1974, but was somehow successfully served with the complaint and defaulted, leading to default judgments of several million dollars. Notice of the judgments was served on Associated but not Fireman’s Fund.

Reprinted courtesy of Christopher Kendrick, Haight Brown & Bonesteel LLP and Valerie A. Moore, Haight Brown & Bonesteel LLP
Mr. Kendrick may be contacted at
Ms. Moore may be contacted at


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