Thursday, September 18, 2014

Defense Verdict in Post-Koken UM Case Upheld

In Senese v. Liberty Mutual, Inc., No. 13-5139 (E.D. Pa. Aug. 19, 2014 Schiller, J.),the Federal District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania denied a Plaintiff's post-trial motions after a defense verdict in a UM jury trial.

The Plaintiff alleged that he sustained personal injuries when an unidentified other driver caused the Plaintiff to crash into a parked car.

After trial at which the liability issues were bifurcated from the damages issues, the jury found that an unidentified motorist did indeed exist and was negligent.  However, the jury also found that the unidentified driver's negligence was not the factual cause of the accident.

In post-trial motions the court found that there was no error in precluding the insured’s expert accident reconstructionist's testimony since it was not deemed reliable nor would it aid the jury under the Daubert analysis.  The trial court also held that it was not error to hold a Daubert hearing on the admissibility of expert evidence where, as here, the court could make an admissibility determination on the basis of the content of the expert's report and the bases for the opinion listed in the expert's report.

The court also found no error in its allowing the Plaintiff to testify that the unidentified driver was traveling at a high rate of speed and accelerating but precluding the Plaintiff from testifying how fast the other drive was going in terms of miles per hour.  The court noted that there was no foundation to support allowing the Plaintiff to give more specific testimony on speed.

The Court also found that, under the case presented, there was a reasonable basis for the jury to find that the unidentified vehicle did not cause the accident and that the accident would have occurred anyway.  As stated, post-trial motions were denied.

Anyone wishing to review this Opinion, may click this LINK

I send thanks to Attorney Scott Cooper of the Harrisburg law firm of Schmidt Kramer for bringing this case to my attention.  Please note that Attorney Cooper will be a featured presenter at the upcoming Tort Talk Expo September 26, 2014.  Please click HERE to Register online or shoot an email to dancummins@comcast.net.

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