If only New York were like Alabama. I can almost see your jaw drop and your eyes burst.
But New York has a problem and Alabama has a solution. And we should have everything behind us.
The problem is bad faith from insurance companies who refuse to settle matters because nobody puts their feet to the fire to act in good faith. And that leaves a backlog in the courthouse. Under normal circumstances.
These normal circumstances mean, for example, that the insurance company can simply follow the case if a driver has a $ 100,000 policy and is compensated for $ 400,000.
Why not? What is your disadvantage? The plaintiff may be desperate, after all, and the longer the despair lasts, the better for the insurance company.
Second, if the carriers assume that it will cost the plaintiff $ 20,000 to investigate the case, they see little reason to take out a $ 100,000 policy. For example, if a plaintiff does not raise $ 80,000 and spends $ 20,000 to investigate the case, he or she could "win" with a jury verdict, but be worse off than the lower settlement. So they ask for a gift.
And if you make a judgment that goes beyond the policy limit, you generally stick to the policy and judgment to collect the rest. However, this judgment is against someone who is unlikely to be able to pay (which is why he initially had a small policy).
Last year I set out the cockamamy method that New York uses to deal with evil intentions. In short, you need to spend all of the money first, then make an excessive judgment, and then get the person you just sued – who owes your client the remainder – to hire you to sue their own carrier for bad will. Maybe they will, maybe they won't, maybe they disappear. And the second lawsuit will take a few more years.
Now add the COVID-19 pandemic. The trials were stopped for months (and possibly longer). And a process is the only way to put pressure on an insurance company. There are now a lot of financially stricken unemployed and no pressure whatsoever on insurance companies to clear up cases, as no juries will be selected in the near future. The problem of an already overloaded judicial system is now being exacerbated.
I recently wrote how a judge had to order virtual deposits due to the intransigence of the defense. The defendants tried to use the pandemic as a tactic to hold up, hold up, hold up until a vaccine is available or until the pandemic has otherwise resolved. Delay justice and deny it.
Now we turn to Alabama. As in many states, there is an evil will law in Alabama. And judges are not amused when porters play games. Because judges don't want their files to be clogged with cases that can be resolved.
Come in, stage deep in the south, Circuit Judge Karen Hall from Madison County. I don't know anything about Judge Hall or its politics, age, race, religion, favorite ball team or anything else. What I do know is that she wasn't amused in Allstate because she was playing games in her courtroom. And I know that because she gave an award for malicious damage that goes far beyond what the applicant actually asked for. (Thank you Kevin Grennan for sharing this decision with me.)
Allstate, you may not be surprised to learn that The Good Hands People appears to have enjoyed doing so, given its presence here in this post – to make the plaintiff spend because he dares to file a lawsuit.
In Harbin v. Stewart there was only an underinsured policy of $ 75,000, so the plaintiff took action against his own insurer for the underinsured coverage he paid. Judge Hall ordered them to mediate from all sides to have someone with full authority to handle them. This was, according to Judge Hall, a "significant loss" with medical bills in excess of $ 234,000.
The plaintiff traveled to mediation with his wife and lawyer to speak. The Allstate adjuster decided to stay at home. Even worse, when the defender arrived, he had no authority to settle down. He didn't offer anything. Nada. Bupkus. The judge was not amused by Allstate's violation of her order.
So they went to court. Allstate doesn't even deny liability. In other words, The Good Hands People knew they had to pay, after all, there were $ 234,000 in medical bills, and it still offered zip-a-dee-doo-da.
The jury came back with $ 690,000.
Here, New York lawmakers should take note of this, as some problems in Alabama (and elsewhere) are no different than here. Judge Hall noted that the rules were designed to determine actions fairly, quickly, and cheaply. The same theory pervades every courthouse and judicial system, although the actual language may differ between states. Essentially, don't waste our time or that of our citizens, who have to do the duty of a jury.
Following this $ 690,000 verdict, the plaintiff's lawyer claimed $ 5,000 in addition to the $ 75,000 policy and $ 52,000 in legal fees.
Nah. Not like in Judge Hall. Under no circumstance. She wouldn’t do that.
Instead, two days ago, she walled it down with a $ 620,000 sanction. In doing so, she found that Allstate was a repeat offender. And she needed a way to stop his behavior.
The relief requested, the court wrote, was "insufficient to serve the dual purpose of dealing with the plaintiff's burden and the overarching effects that Allstate's behavior will have on Alabama courts, civil litigation lawyers, witnesses and Alabama citizens who need to serve to approach juries every time Allstate behaves that way. "
You can be sure that Allstate won't try this trick again in their courtroom.
Now it's New York's turn. When will our legislation give us a malicious law with actual teeth? We are about to see the mother of all residues due to the virus in our court. This is compounded by delays in insurance companies. And when / when we go to court, injured New Yorkers look for airlines that in some cases offer 50-70 cents on the dollar, even if the liability is clear.
How will New York deal with the effects of deliberate delays by insurance companies on courts, civil litigation lawyers, witnesses and New York citizens who must act on juries every time an insurer acts in this way?
New York is probably a massive financial burden from the virus. Albany may increase taxes and decrease services to balance the budget. There is no question that the judicial system will continue to beat in addition to what is now going on.
So, dear legislators, please finally pass a law with malicious intent. With real teeth. Let the judges start enforcing it.
They have the power to make the backlog disappear, stop evil will and bring long-awaited justice to those who seek it. And help save the state some money.
The case is here: Harbin v. Stewart