Monday, December 12, 2016

Federal Middle District Court Judge James M. Munley Addresses Admissibility of Insurance Information at Post-Koken Trial

In his recent December 8, 2016 Opinion in the case of Rodkey v. Progressive Direct Ins. Co., No. 3:16-CV-454 (M.D. Pa. Dec. 8, 2016 Munley, J.), Judge James M. Munley addressed the issue of the admissibility of insurance information at a Post-Koken trial.

This matter arose out of an uninsured motorist claim brought by a Plaintiff who was allegedly the victim of a hit-and-run accident.

In pre-trial motions in limine, the defense sought to preclude evidence of the amounts of premiums the Plaintiff had paid for her uninsured motorist benefits insurance as well as evidence of the amount of uninsured motorists benefits available under the policy.  The court denied both motions and ruled that the Plaintiff was allowed to present this evidence at trial.

The court found such evidence to be relevant to the breach of contract claim stated.  Judge Munley also rejected the defense argument that the admission of such evidence would cause confusion and/or be prejudicial. The court felt that any potential confusion or prejudice could be addressed by way of jury instructions and argument of counsel.

The court otherwise ruled on a separate motion that the plaintiff would be allowed to pursue a recovery of her co-pays and deductible related to medical expenses as those expenses were not "paid or payable" as defined by Pennsylvania's Motor Vehicle Financial Responsibility law.

Anyone wishing to review Judge Munley's decision in the Rodkey case may click this LINK.

I send thanks to Attorney Scott Cooper of the Harrisburg, PA law firm of Schmidt Kramer for bringing this decision to my attention.

To view another, prior decision by Judge James M. Munley in the case of Noone v. Progressive on the admissibility of insurance information in Post-Koken trial matters, click HERE.

To view an Eastern District Federal Court decision in the case of Lucca v. GEICO going the other way and ruling that such information was not admissible, click HERE.

With this split of authority, the hope remains that this issue, and other important Post-Koken issues will go up the appellate ladder and become the subject of published appellate court opinions to provide guidance to the bench and the bar.

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