$300,00 for emotional damages in bad-faith UIM claim. Los Angeles County.

Summary

Plaintiff asks his insurer for UIM damages, but insurer delays for eight months then settles underlying matter for $140,000; insured retains bad-faith rights. 

The Case

  • Case Name: Michael Federici v. Ameriprise Financial Inc., IDS Property Casualty Insurance Company, et al.
  • Court and Case Number: Los Angeles Superior Court / BC502718
  • Date of Verdict or Judgment: Friday, October 31, 2014
  • Date Action was Filed: Tuesday, March 12, 2013
  • Type of Action: Breach of Good Faith, Insurance – Bad Faith, Claims Handling
  • Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Michelle R. Rosenblatt
  • Plaintiffs:
    Michael Federici, 57, waiter
  • Defendants:
    IDS Property Casualty Insurance Company
  • Type of Result: Jury Verdict

The Result

  • Gross Verdict or Award: $335,000
  • Award as to each Defendant:

    $335,000 as to IDS Property Casualty Insurance Company.

    Ameriprise Financial, Inc., was dismissed from the case before trial.

  • Economic Damages:

    $35,000

  • Non-Economic Damages:

    $300,000

  • Punitive Damages:

    Jury found no basis for punitive damages.

  • Trial or Arbitration Time: 4 days.
  • Jury Deliberation Time: 4 hours.
  • Jury Polls: 10-2 (liability), 9-3 (causation), 9-3 (damages), 12-0 (punitive damages).
  • Post Trial Motions & Post-Verdict Settlements: Defendant filed a Motion for Summary Judgment on the genuine dispute doctrine and took a Writ after losing on the Motion for Summary Judgment. Defendant held that there could be no bad faith when the underlying claim is settled.

The Attorneys

  • Attorney for the Plaintiff:

    Law Office of John J. Perlstein by John J. Perlstein, Los Angeles.

    Reisman & Reisman by Daniel Reisman, Los Angeles.

  • Attorney for the Defendant:

    Woolls & Peer by H. Douglas Galt, Los Angeles.

The Experts

  • Plaintiff's Technical Expert(s):

    David Peterson, J.D., insurance claims handling, Oak View.

  • Defendant's Technical Expert(s):

    David A. Reilly, insurance claims handling, El Cajon.

Facts and Background

  • Facts and Background:

    Plaintiff was injured in an automobile accident and quickly settled with the driver for the policy limits of $15,000 and made a claim against his own insurance company for underinsured motorists benefits (UIM).  For a period of eight months, plaintiff made demands upon defendant for benefits, which resulted in a $37,000 offer. Plaintiff then retained counsel to secure his UIM benefits. After a demand for arbitration was made, a settlement of the UIM claim was reached for $140,000.

    Plaintiff reserved his rights to pursue bad faith damages for the delay and brought the instant action for damages for the delay. Plaintiff sought the attorney fees he paid to obtain his UIM benefits and emotional distress damages for the delay.

  • Plaintiff's Contentions:

    That defendant breached the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing by unreasonably delaying payment of plaintiff's UIM benefits and forcing plaintiff to hire counsel to pursue those defendants. Plaintiff contended that defendant's conduct in the delay warranted the imposition of punitive damages.

  • Defendant's Contentions:

    That plaintiff was fully and fairly compensated for his claims. That counsel for plaintiff and plaintiff were responsible for any delay. That plaintiff was not injured in the manner in which he claimed in the UIM claim and that they acted reasonably and  did nothing despicable.

Injuries and Other Damages

  • Plaintiff claimed emotional distress.

Demands and Offers

  • Defendant §998 Offer: $10,000

Disclaimer

This is not an official court document. While the publisher believes the information to be accurate, the publisher does not guarantee it and the reader is advised not to rely upon it without consulting the official court documents or the attorneys of record in this matter who are listed above.

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