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Judges send insurance case back to trial court

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The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed the trial court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of an insurer in a dispute over whether it should pay a claim for underinsured motorist coverage.

American Family Mutual Insurance denied Howard Justice’s claim under his policy for underinsured motorist coverage. Justice, an Indianapolis city bus driver, was injured in an accident with another driver. That driver’s insurer paid the policy limit of $25,000 to Justice. He also was paid more than $77,000 in benefits in workers’ compensation coverage under his employer’s policy.

Justice’s policy limits with American Family were $50,000 per person and $100,000 per accident in underinsured motorist coverage.

American Family argued at the trial level that the workers’ compensation setoff provision reduced the limits of the liability policy so that its liability under the policy was zero.

The appellate judges cited Beam v. Wausau, 765 N.E.2d 524, 528 (Ind. 2002), a similar case from the Supreme Court, to support their ruling reversing summary judgment. The justices held the trial court erred by reducing the damages award by the gross amount of workers’ compensation benefits paid. The Supreme Court held that the exclusion called for a reduction of damages by any amount of workers’ compensation benefits received for the same element of damages insured by the policy.

“In this case, the trial court’s order granting summary judgment reflects, without opinion, its agreement with AFI that the setoffs should result in a reduction from the UIM policy limits. Under the rationale of Beam, however, this is incorrect as a matter of law. After a determination of liability and damages, Justice’s damages award should be reduced by the $25,000.00 recovery from Wagner and the percentage of worker’s compensation benefits paid to Justice based upon Wagner’s percentage of comparative fault, up to a maximum of $25,000.00,” wrote Judge James Kirsch.

 

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  1. Well, maybe it's because they are unelected, and, they have a tendency to strike down laws by elected officials from all over the country. When you have been taught that "Democracy" is something almost sacred, then, you will have a tendency to frown on such imperious conduct. Lawyers get acculturated in law school into thinking that this is the very essence of high minded government, but to people who are more heavily than King George ever did, they may not like it. Thanks for the information.

  2. I pd for a bankruptcy years ago with Mr Stiles and just this week received a garnishment from my pay! He never filed it even though he told me he would! Don't let this guy practice law ever again!!!

  3. Excellent initiative on the part of the AG. Thankfully someone takes action against predators taking advantage of people who have already been through the wringer. Well done!

  4. Conour will never turn these funds over to his defrauded clients. He tearfully told the court, and his daughters dutifully pledged in interviews, that his first priority is to repay every dime of the money he stole from his clients. Judge Young bought it, much to the chagrin of Conour’s victims. Why would Conour need the $2,262 anyway? Taxpayers are now supporting him, paying for his housing, utilities, food, healthcare, and clothing. If Conour puts the money anywhere but in the restitution fund, he’s proved, once again, what a con artist he continues to be and that he has never had any intention of repaying his clients. Judge Young will be proven wrong... again; Conour has no remorse and the Judge is one of the many conned.

  5. Pass Legislation to require guilty defendants to pay for the costs of lab work, etc as part of court costs...

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