Sunday, July 5, 2009

Another Post-Koken Trial Court Rules That Evidence of Insurance is Admissible

Another Pennsylvania trial court has ruled that evidence of insurance may be permissible in a post-Koken motor vehicle accident litigation , i.e. when a lawsuit against a defendant-driver and the related underinsured (UIM) claim are joined together under a single lawsuit.

In the case of Six v. Phillips, (C.P. Beaver, June 30, 2009), Judge Kwidis denied efforts to sever the case into separate lawsuits when he denied preliminary objections filed by Erie, the insurance company that covered the defendant-driver on the third party lawsuit side of the case. A copy of this case may be ordered from the Pennsylvania Law Weekly for a small fee by calling 800-276-7427 and giving the PICS Case No. 09-1100.

In so ruling, the court rejected arguments that the combined lawsuit would prejudice the defendant-driver by impermissibly allowing evidence of the insurance amounts in violation of Pa.R.C.P. 411 (prohibiting evidence of insurance during civil trials). Judge Kwidis noted that, while evidence of insurance is ordinarily not permitted under Rule 411 to show that a defendant had coverage, the Rule does allow evidence of insurance when it is offered for a separate, relevant purpose such as for assisting the jury in determining whether or not a tortfeasor was underinsured in a post-Koken case.

The decision of Judge Kwidis of the Beaver County Court of Common Pleas is consistent with other post-Koken trial court decisions such as the decision of Judge Gregory Chelak in the Pike County case of Jannone v. McCooey.

For more analysis of these types of cases, please click on the Label "Koken" on the right side of this blog.

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