Sunday, June 7, 2015

Prior Verdict Against Tortfeasor Can Serve to Collaterally Estop Companion UIM Claim


In its recent June 5, 2015 decision in the case of Mason v. Progressive Direct Ins. Co., No. 1650 EDA 2014 (Pa. Super. 2015 Panella, Ott, Jenkins, J.J.)(Op. by Panella, J.), the Pennsylvania Superior Court affirmed a trial court's entry of summary judgment in favor of a UIM carrier on collateral estoppel grounds, holding that a verdict in the third party case against the tortfeasor can serve to collaterally estopped the Plaintiff from pursuing a companion UIM claim even where the verdict was in excess of the third party tortfeasor's limits.

In this case the tortfeasor had liability limits of $25,000.  The jury entered a verdict of $100,000 in favor of the Plaintiff.

In applying collateral estoppel, the trial and appellate courts in this matter emphasized that not only did the tortfeasor's liability carrier pay the entire verdict but the Plaintiff accepted the payment and had the judgment marked satisfied.

When the Plaintiff thereafter sued the UIM carrier, the UIM carrier sought and secured summary judgment, arguing that the issue of liability and damages had already been fully litigated with the Plaintiff having been paid in full and the verdict/judgment having been marked satisfied. 

The Superior Court affirmed and ruled that, under such circumstances, the issues of liability and damages could not be relitigated by the Plaintiff against the UIM carrier on a UIM claim.

Anyone wishing to review this decision online may click this LINK.

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