Friday, September 26, 2014

A Sampling of Post-Koken Jury Verdicts From Around the Commonwealth To Date

Below is a sampling of Post-Koken jury verdict results uncovered to date from a review of cases that have gone up the appellate ladder and from research on verdicts from valid sources such as the Pennsylvania Law Weekly.

This list is NOT represented to be exhaustive.  Rather, it only lists those cases my research has uncovered to date.  There certainly could be, and likely are, many more Post-Koken jury verdicts that have not been generally publicized.

Please let me know if you are aware of any other such cases--I can be reached at dancummins@comcast.net.

I will update this list periodically with new information.  Note that it is not my plan to identify the attorneys involved in the summaries of the verdicts reviewed.

It is my understanding that there may have been at least one other defense verdict in a Post-Koken case, but I will not reference that case until I have confirmed such results as being accurate.

An analysis of the below sampling of Post-Koken jury verdicts reveals no clear trends.  Stated otherwise, the risks attendant with proceeding to a jury trial in an auto accident case remain to be considered by all parties involved.



STATE COURT


Allegheny County

Stepanovich v. McGraw and State Farm, 78 A.3d 1147 (Pa. Super. 2013) appeal denied 11 WAL 2014 (Pa. 2014)(Allegheny County case)

Post-Koken UIM claim.   Plaintiff sued tortfeasor Defendant and UIM carrier.   Disputed negligence case over who had the red light in a pedestrian versus vehicle case.   Both tortfeasor’s defense counsel and UIM carrier’s defense counsel were allowed to participate in the defense with the only limitation being on cumulative questioning.   Jury not informed of involvement of UIM carrier as a party Defendant.  Defense verdict entered.  


Marlette v. State Farm, 57 A.3d 1224 (Pa. 2012) (Allegheny County case)

Uninsured motorist case.   Plaintiff’s sued uninsured tortfeasor and their own UM carrier, State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company.  Liability was uncontested and the case proceeded to trial on damages for the injured husband and wife Plaintiffs.   Following a two (2) day trial, the jury entered a verdict in favor of the Plaintiff-husband in the amount of $550,000.00 for his bodily injuries and lost wages and in the amount of $150,000.00 to the Plaintiff-wife for loss of consortium.   The total $700,000.00 verdict was molded down to the uninsured motorists policy limits of $250,000.00.

 

 
Philadelphia County

Patterson v. Travelers Home and Marine Ins. Co., No. 130502892 (C.P. Phila. Co. July 9, 2014)

Plaintiff complained of neck, back, right knee injuries; tortfeasor tendered his $50,000.00 liability limits.  Plaintiff demanded Travelers’ $25,000.00 UIM limits; jury awarded $86,000.00 in UIM benefits; verdict molded to limits.

 
Phy v. Nikulin and Progressive Advanced Insurance Company, No. 130203316 (C.P. Phila. Co. June 14, 2014)

UM claim; rear–end accident caused by uninsured driver.  Plaintiff complains of headaches, neck pain, thoracic pain, low back pain.   Plaintiff did not report to an emergency room and did not treat for one (1) month following the accident.  Plaintiff’s primary treatment was approximately five (5) months of chiropractic treatment.  MRIs revealed bulging discs.  Uninsured tortfeasor was not represented and did not appear for trial.   Progressive’s Motion In Limine to preclude any mention of Progressive as UIM carrier was granted; however, Progressive attorney was allowed to defend the matter.   Plaintiff demanded Progressive’s $15,000.00 in uninsured motorists benefits.  Progressive offered $4,500.00.   Jury awarded $250,000.00 for pain and suffering (there were no economic damages claims for medical expenses or wage loss)).  

 
Casino v. Progressive Specialty Ins. Co., No. 130200693 (C.P. Phila. Co. Apr. 23, 2014)

Clear liability case.  Plaintiff alleges a torn meniscus in right knee.   After his emergency room visit on the day of the accident, there was then a 45 day gap in treatment.   Surgery was allegedly recommended but not completed by the Plaintiff allegedly due to financial constraints.  Plaintiff settled with tortfeasor for $13,500.00 out of $15,000.00 liability limits.  The Plaintiff demanded Progressive’s $15,000.00 in UIM limits.   At a court mandated arbitration, a panel ruled in favor of Progressive and the Plaintiff appealed to a jury trial.  After a jury trial, the jury entered an award in favor of the Plaintiff in the amount of $60,000.00. 

 
Hall v. Irving, et.al., November Term, 2012 No.:  0220 (C.P. Phila., 1/29/2014) (Allen, J.)

A Philadelphia jury returned a verdict in favor a limited tort plaintiff and awarded $100,000.00 in a combined negligence/UM action. 

While a passenger in her husband’s automobile, plaintiff was injured when her vehicle was struck by the third-party defendant, who was operating an uninsured motor vehicle. 

The third-party defendant claimed the plaintiff’s injuries were not serious enough to entitle her to non-economic damages. 

Prior to trial, the court granted the UM carrier’s motion in limine, which precluded any  mention of the UM carrier or any reference to or introduction into evidence of any matters concerning plaintiff’s insurance coverage.  Counsel for the UM carrier was permitted to participate at trial, but the UM carrier was never identified to the jury. 

The jury found that plaintiff’s two herniated discs in her neck constituted a serious impairment of a bodily function and awarded $100,000.00 to compensate her for past and future pain and suffering.

 

Mitchell v. Progressive Specialty Ins. Co., No.: June Term, 2012 No.: 03679 (C.P. Philadelphia, 10/3/2013) (Maier, J.)

Limited Tort Plaintiff’s vehicle was struck by a taxi cab in Philadelphia County.  Following the accident, plaintiff settled with the driver of the taxi cab for $13,000.00 (policy limits of $15,000.00) and pursued UIM benefits against her own UIM insurer, Progressive.

At trial against the UIM carrier only, plaintiff showed that she went to work the day of the accident, but treated with an acupuncturist the next day, and received physical therapy for five months.  An MRI confirmed an aggravation of plaintiff’s pre-existing cervical herniation.

Prior to the accident, plaintiff had reached a tolerable baseline condition with respect to her previous cervical-spine injury.  After the accident, however, her condition was allegedly worsened.

The jury found that plaintiff’s injuries were sufficiently serious to pierce the limited tort threshold and awarded $70,000.00.  Post-trial, the trial court molded the award to $15,136.00 to reflect the limits of plaintiff’s UIM policy after application of a credit from the amount previously received from the third-party tortfeasor.



Luzerne County

Borthwick v. Webb and GEICO, No.  No. 2735-Civil-2010 (C.P. Luz. Co. 2012 Vough, J.)

Combined third party tortfeasor and UIM carrier case.  Limited Tort defense.  Both defense attorneys participate.

Liability admitted by third party tortfeasor thereby precluding UIM carrier from arguing contributory negligence.  Plaintiff alleges aggravation of pre-existing thoracic and lumbar spine disc disease.  Vocational claim in approximate amount of $40,000.

Tortfeasor's third party liability limits were $50,000 of which $20,000 was offered in settlement.

UIM carrier's limits were $1.2 million dollars.  No offer by GEICO.

Jury was informed that the Plaintiff had an insurance policy with GEICO.  No more detailed mentioning of insurance at trial.

Jury awarded $2,000 in wage loss and $0 for pain and suffering, equating to a UIM defense verdict.



Brobst v. Komrowski, Progressive Ins., and GEICO, No. 16180-CV-2010 (C.P. Luz. Co. 2012 Hughes, J.)

Disputed liability case.  Third party and UIM defendants.  Progressive settled out prior to trial with $4,000 payment.  Third party defense attorney and GEICO defense attorney both participate.

Plaintiff alleges soft tissue strain injuries to neck and mid-back along with contusions to elbow, right rib, and leg.  Plaintiff's demand was $40,000.

Third party tortfeasor had $100,000 in liability limits of which $8,600 was offered in settlement.

First-level UIM carrier, Progressive had $50,000 in UIM limits and, as noted, settled out for $4,000.

Second-level UIM carrier, GEICO had $100,000 in UIM limits and did not have an offer out at the time of trial.

Jury was informed that the Plaintiff had an insurance policy with GEICO.  No more detailed mentioning of insurance at trial.

Jury assessed 50% contributory negligence on the Plaintiff and awarded $3,696 for lost wages only. Equates to defense verdict for UIM carrier.




 


FEDERAL COURT
 
Eastern District Court of Pennsylvania 

Heebner v. Nationwide Insurance Enterprise, 818 F. Supp. 2nd 853 (E.D. Pa. 2011)

Plaintiff involved in an accident with an uninsured/underinsured motorist.   The Plaintiff’s Complaint described the motorist as “self-insured”.  As required under the Nationwide policy, the Plaintiff sued the motorist.   Jury entered an award of $85,000.00 in compensatory damages on top of which was added delay damages of $48,201.96.  



Middle District Court of Pennsylvania

Calestini v. Progressive Cas. Ins. Co., No. 3:09-CV-1679 (M.D.Pa. 2010 Caputo, J.)

Defense verdict in Limited Tort case.



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