Prime Property & Casualty Insurance Inc. ("PPCI") successfully resolved a trucking case that went to jury trial in Florida resulting in a jury verdict of just under four hundred twelve million dollars ($412,000,000) . The excessive judgment was due to the complete failure of the insured trucking company, Top Auto Express ("Top Auto"), to cooperate with its own defense at trial. Despite even retaining private investigators to locate its insured, PPCI and the law firm it hired to defend Top Auto had no client with whom to consult or to personally represent itself at trial. The defense law firm was ethically precluded from legally representing Top Auto at trial because of the lack of Top Auto’s cooperation. Therefore, the plaintiff’s case against them proceeded unopposed. After the runaway verdict was announced, PPCI negotiated with the plaintiff’s counsel and settled the case, completely satisfying the judgment and even protecting Top Auto, for the remaining nine hundred ninety-one thousand dollars ($991,000) of the one million dollar ($1,000,000) MCS-90 Filing obligation.
The underlying facts of the plaintiff’s case involved accidents between numerous other vehicles that collided with each other during a torrential downpour of rain on a Florida freeway. Because of at least one motor vehicle accident and stopped traffic ahead, the Top Auto truck swerved and collided with a couple of other vehicles to its right and then overcorrected to the left ultimately coming to a stop across multiple lanes of the freeway. Behind the now stationary Top Auto truck, several subsequent motor vehicle accidents occurred as some vehicles were able to safely stop and navigate around stopped vehicles while others were not; causing numerous collisions. At the tail end of these accidents a pickup truck was slowing down and pulling into the median to avoid colliding with the stopped vehicles ahead of it. The plaintiff, riding a motorcycle behind the pickup truck, could not stop in time and rear-ended the pickup truck. The motorcyclist sustained significant injuries.
PPCI believes that had its insured fully cooperated with the preparation for and participation at trial, the runaway verdict could have been averted.
PPCI filed a declaratory relief action in court against its Top Auto for their lack of cooperation, which is a requirement of PPCI’s policy.
Rick J. Lindsey, President and CEO of Prime Property & Casualty Insurance Inc. states that, "This is a case which underscores the importance of Prime’s 'Partnership Approach' in which we work in concert with our insureds to produce favorable outcomes in litigation. Unfortunately, the insured in this case turned out not to be a good partner in its failure to assist with its own defense."
PPCI distinguishes itself by handling claims "in-house" through its Claims Direct Access ("CDA") service. CDA is committed to thorough and cost-effective resolutions, having successfully resolved over 60,000 property and casualty claims and lawsuits.
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