Thursday, May 13, 2021

Issues of Fact Preclude Entry of Summary Judgment in Limited Tort UIM Case

In the case of Depretis v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., No. 2:20-CV-02193-JP (E.D. Pa. April 14, 2021 Padova, J.), the court denied a carrier’s Motion for Summary Judgment based upon the Plaintiff’s selection of the limited tort option in an underinsured motorist benefits matter.

After reviewing the current status of the law regarding the standard of review with respect to the limited tort question and whether or not a Plaintiff sustained a serious injury as a result of the subject accident, the court rejected the defense argument that the Plaintiff’s case, at best, only showed that the Plaintiff suffered a minor aggravation of pre-existing injuries to his neck and shoulder. The defense argued that, although the Plaintiff testified as to an aggravation of his previous injuries to his neck and shoulder, the medical records allegedly showed that the Plaintiff was suffering from the same impairments shortly before the accident occurred.

The defense also asserted that the absence of any evidence showing any serious damage to the Plaintiff’s vehicle (a dent to the rear bumper that the Plaintiff did not have repaired) supported the defense argument that the Plaintiff did not suffer any serious impairment of bodily function as a result of the subject accident. The court noted that it would draw an adverse inference that the Plaintiff’s vehicle did not sustain serious damage given that the Plaintiff failed to produce photographs of the vehicle’s damages and failed to explain the reason for his failure to produce that information.

The defense additionally relied upon an IME report in support of its limited tort defense.

The court noted that the Plaintiff had otherwise presented sufficient medical evidence and testimony to create a genuine issue of material fact as to whether or not he sustained a serious injury as a result of the subject accident. As such, the question was left for the jury to consider.

Anyone wishing to review a copy of this decision may click this LINK.

Source: “Digest of Recent Opinions.” Pennsylvania Law Weekly (April 29, 2021).

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