A Missouri Lawyers Weekly article features court case handled by Kip Robertson and Kelly Frickleton.
Read the full article below:
An insurance company paid $1.5 million to resolve a claim that it had failed to settle a lawsuit against a tow truck operator when it had a chance to do so, according to his attorney.
Kip Robertson of Bartimus Frickleton Robertson Rader said the insurance suit stemmed from a 2018 jury verdict in Boone County. He asked that the underlying case not be disclosed so that he could discuss the settlement.
In 2014, the tow truck operator had been dispatched to remove a disabled vehicle from the shoulder of northbound Highway 63 in Boone County. While the operator was attempting to tow the car away, another vehicle struck the towed unit, resulting in serious injuries to one of the passengers of the oncoming vehicle.
The injured passenger sued the tow truck driver for negligence. The tow truck driver had commercial automobile insurance with limits of $300,000. The driver’s carrier accepted coverage and provided a defense.
At trial, the jury rendered a verdict in favor of the injured passenger, resulting in a judgment against the tow truck driver for about $800,000. The insurer paid its $300,000 policy limit to partially satisfy the judgment and ceased its defense.
The tow truck operator then sued the insurance company for bad faith, alleging the carrier failed to settle the case within the policy limits and instead made multiple unreasonably low settlement offers. He also alleged the insurer refused to enter into a proposed high/low settlement agreement before trial that would have capped the plaintiff’s exposure at an amount within the policy limits.
The insurer contended it never had an opportunity to settle the case for within the policy limits and that there was never a formal high/low agreement proposed in advance of trial, Robertson said.
The bad-faith case was settled in the middle of discovery. Robertson noted the settlement was $1.2 million more than the policy limit and approximately $700,000 more than the judgment. As a result of the settlement, the plaintiff was able to satisfy the judgment that was entered in favor of the injured passenger, Robertson said.