Palm Beach, Florida (JusticeNewsFlash.com): In an alarming and emerging area of automobile insurance coverage law. Some of this country’s major automobile insurance carriers have been acting in concert by acquiescing to each other’s desires to dismiss portions of automobile lawsuit actions. The carriers have been running the statue of liberty play, a play that in football appears to be doing 1 thing and in reality does something completely different – all while in plain view. The carriers have been silent in there responsibility to oppose a Motion to Dismiss in certain lawsuits. They have been posturing that they are acting in the interest of judicial efficiency however, the real motive is to cap the damages of the injured parties.
In the case out of Fagler County, Florida – Metropolitan V. Tepper – the plaintiff was injured by an underinsured motorist, the plaintiff had a policy of insurance that provided coverage that was in excess of the bodily injury policy that was afforded by the Defendant. In this case the insurance company for the defendant, who is the underinsured motorist, had his attorney file a motion to dismiss the claim of the plaintiff against him. This motion to dismiss if granted would allow the underinsured defendant to be let out of the law suit and for all intents and purposes shield this defendant from the stress and anxiety and rigors of defending a lawsuit. This motion to dismiss was financed by the automobile insurance carrier for the underinsured defendant. The attorney for the uninsured motorist insurance carrier who was also defending this case, but was the provider of coverage to the plaintiff, did oppose this motion to dismiss. The trial court granted the motion to dismiss. This put the wheels in motion.
The ramifications of the decision in Metropolitan v. Tepper are that now throughout the state of Florida, insurance carriers, the major financiers of the defense of civil lawsuits in this state are working under an unwritten and unspoken “pseudo agreement”. This unwritten and unspoken “pseudo agreement” benefits the insurance carriers only and is advanced to the detriment of injured parties throughout the state. The result of this “pseudo agreement” is that these insurance companies have now circumvented the legislature in the state of Florida. This circumvention through case law and activist judges will having a chilling effect in that it may be able to limit the damages that jury’s award to injured parties. This limitation comes from the ruling in and reliance on Metropolitan v. Tepper in that the plaintiff is now capped at the policy limits of their uninsured motorist coverage, this may seem like a small matter. The problem that this limitation presents is that the Florida Legislature regulates automobile insurance carriers through statute. Insurance carriers by figuring out a way to circumvent the legislature are paving the way for future abuses of injured parties.
Laws on the books of the state of Florida are rigorously debated and vetted in the Florida legislature, these are created to prevent the ability of large corporations to take advantage of injured parties. This new silent & unwritten “pseudo agreement” that the insurance carriers are utilizing effectively eliminates any consequences for their treatment of the public in the future. In other words the ruling in Metropolitan v. Tepper eliminates the safeguards that were placed in the law to protect the public from the widespread abuses that had been perpetrated on them in the past.
We are monitoring this situation and will keep the public abreast of it. As of the date of this article – we are aware of 4 Motions to Dismiss that have been granted.
About West Palm Beach Attorney:
Patrick J. Tighe is an West Palm Beach lawyer – attorney in the law firm of Patrick J. Tighe, P.A., FL. He practices in the areas of general negligence and personal injury. Patrick has represented injured parties exclusively for the past 6 years. Mr. Tighe earned his B.A. degree from Villanova University, in Villanova Pa. and his J.D. degree from St. John’s University – School of Law, in New York City. He is a former Senior Claims Representative for the #1 insurer of Automobiles in the country. Patrick is often asked to speak regarding differing insurance coverage issues. Patrick is a member of the American Justice Association, the Florida Justice Association and the Palm Beach County Justice Association.
Patrick J. Tighe
1675 Palm Beach Lakes Blvd.,
West Palm Beach, Fl 33401
Telephone: (561) 799-1542
Facsimile: (561) 799-1543