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Appeals court reinstates injured motorist’s claim against insurer

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A driver’s claim against an insurance company that was dismissed by a trial court was reinstated by the Indiana Court of Appeals on Thursday.

Slavojka Pistalo was injured in a 2003 vehicle collision and filed suit against motorist Iris Wilks, who died in the same year. Pistalo learned of her death while in negotiations with Wilks’ insurer, and Pistalo’s attorney opened an estate in Wilks’ name to pursue the personal injury claim.

Pistalo offered to settle for the $100,000 policy limit, but insurer Progressive Casualty Insurance Co. refused. A jury later awarded found Wilks 100 percent at fault and awarded Pistalo $309,000 from Wilks’ estate. The insurer paid the policy limit, and Pistalo filed further proceedings to recover $325,000 – the remaining award plus fees and prejudgment interest. A Lake Superior Court – one of three that has been involved in the litigation – granted summary judgment in favor of the insurer.

In Slavojka Pistalo v. Progressive Casualty Insurance Company and The Estate of Iris M. Wilks, Deceased, 45A04-1204-PL-214, the appeals court reversed and remanded.

“By refusing to settle, Progressive placed its insured at risk of incurring a judgment for an amount exceeding the policy limits,” Judge Terry Crone wrote for the court. “If bad faith is established, Progressive’s obligation to Pistalo will include not only the stated policy limits, but also the amount of the excess judgment.

“Because the issue of whether Progressive acted in bad faith has not been established in the designated materials as a matter of law, we conclude that summary judgment was inappropriate. Accordingly, we reverse and remand for proceedings consistent with this decision.”
 

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  1. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  2. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

  3. I will agree with that as soon as law schools stop lying to prospective students about salaries and employment opportunities in the legal profession. There is no defense to the fraudulent numbers first year salaries they post to mislead people into going to law school.

  4. The sad thing is that no fish were thrown overboard The "greenhorn" who had never fished before those 5 days was interrogated for over 4 hours by 5 officers until his statement was illicited, "I don't want to go to prison....." The truth is that these fish were measured frozen off shore and thawed on shore. The FWC (state) officer did not know fish shrink, so the only reason that these fish could be bigger was a swap. There is no difference between a 19 1/2 fish or 19 3/4 fish, short fish is short fish, the ticket was written. In addition the FWC officer testified at trial, he does not measure fish in accordance with federal law. There was a document prepared by the FWC expert that said yes, fish shrink and if these had been measured correctly they averaged over 20 inches (offshore frozen). This was a smoke and mirror prosecution.

  5. I love this, Dave! Many congrats to you! We've come a long way from studying for the bar together! :)

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