The insurance company is not allowed to conduct litigation under the name of a foreigner

From Pasparage v. Progressive Specialty Ins. Co.Judge Maureen Kelly (WD Pa.) ruled last month:

The plaintiff … was injured in a traffic accident caused by a negligent driver. The parties agree that the driver was at fault for the accident and agree that his insurer offered the full limits of his liability policy. In this breach of contract action, plaintiff seeks additional compensation under the terms of its underinsured motorist (“UIM”) insurance policy issued by defendant Progressive Specialty Insurance Company …. The parties dispute the extent of plaintiff’s injuries caused by the accident, and Progressive has dismissed the UIM claim.

Progressive filed a Motion in Limine seeking to prevent Progressive from being named as a named defendant at trial. Progressive contends that it would have suffered unfair prejudice had the jury been aware of its connection to this action. Therefore, Progressive requests that the parties use the name of the non-party driver as the defendant. Progressive contends that the substitution is consistent with the “substantive law of the forum state—Pennsylvania,” and a dispositive opinion issued by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in Stepanovich v. McGraw (Pa. Super. 2013), where the underlying offender was also a party to the proceedings.

The plaintiff opposes the request. He states that he does not intend to introduce evidence of Progressive’s UIM coverage limits or the amount of the tortfeasor liability insurance limit. However, plaintiff argues that Progressive should remain a named defendant in order for the jury to understand Progressive’s role as adverse party and breach of contract claim for UIM benefits….

Progressive…is seeking to shield its identity from the jury due to a widely alleged fear of an inflated jury verdict. In support, Progressive states Paxton Nat. Ins. Co. Co. v. Brick ceiling (Pa. 1987), which involved an insured’s breach of a contractual duty to cooperate in a subrogation action to recover paid losses. The policyholder refused to allow the insurer to proceed against the third party on his behalf. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court held that the insured materially breached the policy because subrogation claims “would almost certainly be stronger if brought on behalf of the insured,” and the use of his name would prevent the jury from being tempted to reach a decision “based on the extrinsic consideration that the insurance company would actually pay the bill.”

Here, Progressive does not provide any binding or persuasive authority allowing it to protect its identity by placing before the jury the name of an individual who is not a party to the UIM policy, has no obligation under the policy, and has no legal obligation to the current litigation. ..

Progressive briefly refers to Federal Rule of Evidence 403, which provides that “[t]a court may exclude relevant evidence if its probative value is substantially less than the risk of … unfair prejudice, confusion of the issue, misleading the jury, undue delay, waste of time, or unnecessary presentation of cumulative evidence.” Like Rule 411, Rule 403 is not a mechanism that permits party to act anonymously or on behalf of a person who is not a party and … is contrary to the general right of the public to know the identity of those who come before the court.Absent exceptional circumstances not cited by Progressive, the relief sought is not warranted.

Finally, the Court notes that any potential prejudice to the progressive proceeding on its own behalf is offset by the plaintiff’s agreement not to introduce evidence of UIM policy limits and the amount of underlying liability payments received….

Within five days, the case was settled (although this may also have resulted from the court’s decision to exclude evidence of the plaintiff’s hernia, which the plaintiff argued stemmed from the injury; the court felt that expert evidence would be required to support that theory) .

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *