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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. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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