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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. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  2. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  3. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  4. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

  5. I am compelled to announce that I am not posting under any Smith monikers here. That said, the post below does have a certain ring to it that sounds familiar to me: http://www.catholicnewworld.com/cnwonline/2014/0907/cardinal.aspx

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