Post-Koken Win- James Haggerty and Jordan Derringer
/ 22.Jun, 2011
In Johnson v. Nationwide, Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia, June Term, 2009, No. 3375, one of the first post-Koken underinsured motorist cases was tried in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County. James C. Haggerty, Esquire served as trial counsel. Jordan Derringer, Esquire assisted in preparing the matter for trial. The case was tried before a jury in Philadelphia County. A verdict was returned in favor of the plaintiff in the amount of $4,150.00. Following a Motion to Mold the Verdict to account for the applicable liability credit, the verdict was reduced to zero. No appeal is anticipated.
Various concerns existed with respect to the trial of an underinsured motorist claim before a jury with the sole defendant being an insurance carrier in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County. In this regard, the Court tried the matter as a standard tort case, much like any automobile accident lawsuit. No reference was made during the trial to underinsured motorist coverage. No instruction was given to the jury with respect to underinsured motorist coverage. Prior to trial, the Judge had agreed that insurance coverages and credits would not be disclosed and that any verdict would be molded accordingly. References were made to the insurer-defendant only during voir dire and briefly during closing. Otherwise, the case was tried to a jury as a standard automobile accident claim.
The successful result was due, in part, to the control of the trial process. During trial, references were not made to insurance, the policy, payment of premiums or insurance company advertisements. Instead, the only issues presented to the jury were the negligence of the striking driver, causation and damages. Prior to trial, no settlement offers were made. The case represents a fine exemplar of the manner in which uninsured and underinsured motorist cases should be tried in court. For additional information regarding the trial, the manner in which it was tried, Motions in Limine, etc., contact Jim Haggerty (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Jordan Derringer (email@example.com).