Plaintiff with catastrophic injuries says $15K policy limit demand not properly accepted, policy is open. Defense. Riverside County.
Affirmative defense on insurer's settlement offer nets plaintiff with catastrophic injuries just $15,000 policy limits. Plaintiff claimed that defendant insurer had "opened up" its policy.
- Case Name: Carachure v. Scott
- Court and Case Number: Riverside Superior Court / RIC1309555
- Date of Verdict or Judgment: Thursday, August 30, 2018
- Type of Action: Insurance – Bad Faith, Claims Handling
- Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Irma Asberry
- Plaintiffs: Maria Carachure, 64.
- Defendants: Celia Scott
- Type of Result: Jury Verdict
- Gross Verdict or Award: Defense. Jury found that defendant had proven her affirmative defense of settlement, and rejected plaintiff’s argument that defendant’s insurer had failed to properly accept a $15,000 policy limit demand before the lawsuit was filed.
- Trial or Arbitration Time: 2 weeks.
- Jury Deliberation Time: 1 1/2 hours.
- Attorney for the Plaintiff:
Bisnar Chase by H. Gavin Long, Newport Beach.
- Attorney for the Defendant:
Demler, Armstrong & Rowland, LLP by James P. Lemieux and David A. Ring, Long Beach.
- Defendant's Medical Expert(s):
Timothy Walker, Esq., insurance, Long Beach.
- Plaintiff's Technical Expert(s):
Sherman M. Spitz, insurance, Irvine.
- Defendant's Technical Expert(s):
Sherman M. Spitz, Esq., insurance, Irvine.
Facts and Background
- Facts and Background:
Defendant Celia Scott, while driving at night, struck pedestrian Maria Carachure, causing catastrophic injuries. Plaintiff sued for personal injuries and her attorneys sent a written settlement demand for her $15,000 insurance policy limits, but when defendant’s insurer, Safeco, accepted the demand, plaintiff’s then-counsel claimed that the terms had not been complied with and that the insurance policy was open. Plaintiff then filed suit for bodily injuries, contending the full value of the claim was $30 million.
- Plaintiff's Contentions:
That defendant's insurer failed to properly accept a $15,000 policy limit demand before the lawsuit was filed; contended that plaintiff was incapacitated and there was no guardian ad litem appointed when the defense claimed the case previously settled; further, that there was no consent by plaintiff to settle.
- Defendant's Contentions:
Defendant relied upon the policy limits settlement as a complete defense to plaintiffs’ claims.
Injuries and Other Damages
- Physical Injuries claimed by Plaintiff:
Severe bodily injury (quasi-vegetative state).