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Judges affirm reduction of subrogation lien

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The Indiana Court of Appeals rejected State Farm Insurance Company’s argument that its subrogation lien regarding one couple’s policy shouldn’t be reduced based on State Farm’s refusal in a policy held by another family to pay the full amount of the couple’s claim following a car accident.

Joel Genth was driving his father’s car, which was insured with a State Farm policy (Policy 2) when his car hit Thomas Young’s vehicle. Young was injured and received treatment. His medical insurance company Ingenix and his State Farm policy (Policy 1) paid for those treatments.

The Youngs sued Genth and his father for damages and listed two subrogation liens totaling $24,276.61. State Farm, on behalf of the Genths, offered to settle the Youngs’ claims for $17,432. The Youngs then filed a motion to reduce the subrogation liens pursuant to Indiana Code 34-51-2-9. They claimed they should only be responsible for 17.43 percent of the value of each subrogation lien because they were only receiving that percentage of the Genths’ $100,000 policy limit.

Policy 1 agreed to reduce the amount of its lien from $5,000 to $3,250 but not to reduce the lien to 17.43 percent of its value. The trial court ordered State Farm to accept $581 for Policy 1, which is 17.43 percent of the value of the original subrogation lien, minus its pro rata share of attorney fees and litigation expenses.

“In light of the unusual facts before us, i.e., that State Farm issued both Policy One and Policy Two, we decline to adopt State Farm Policy One’s premise that its subrogation lien should not be reduced based on State Farm Policy Two’s refusal to pay the full amount of the Youngs’ claim. The purpose of subrogation is to avoid unjust enrichment,” Judge Meliss May wrote in State Farm Insurance Company v. Thomas A. Young and Mary E. Young, Joel P. Genth and Philip K. Genth, INGENIX 92A05-1205-CT-258.

“State Farm paid under Policy One for some of the Youngs’ damages, and thus was entitled to a subrogation lien. But ‘the one primarily liable,’ Wirth, 950 N.E.2d at 1216, and who ‘in good conscience should have been’ paying, id., was State Farm under Policy Two. Therefore, to allow State Farm to recover the full value of its subrogation lien under Policy One, when State Farm did not pay the full value of Youngs’ claim under Policy Two, would unjustly enrich State Farm.”
 

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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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