Lawson v. MAIF, MIA #13-00009 (June 19, 2013)
N.B. This opinion was rescinded because the parties settled before the opinion was delivered, but the message did not get to the court in time.
***Disclosure: MAIF is my client. ***
Plaintiff had insurance with MAIF. (Op. 4.) On February 6, 2012, Plaintiff was injured in an accident caused by another MAIF-insured driver (“D.S.”) fleeing from police. (Op. 4-5.) Plaintiff went to shock trauma and incurred $10,546 dollars in medical damages and $175 in lost wages. (Op. 5).
MAIF initiated an investigation and denied coverage on October 12, 2012.
In November, 2012, MAIF determined that it would pay Plaintiff’s claim under the Uninsured Motorist coverage. (Op. 6.)
MAIF then extended a series of offers to Plaintiff under the Uninsured Motorist coverage. (Op. 7.) On December 14, 2012, MAIF offered $8,672. (Op. 7.) On February 25, 2013, MAIF offered $9000. On March 5, 2013, MAIF offered $10,000. (Op. 7.)
On March 12, 2013, Plaintiff filed the bad faith complaint.
On March 22, 2013, MAIF offered $15,000. (Op. 7.)
On March 27, 2013: MAIF offered $18,000. (Op. 7.)
On April 3, 2013, MAIF offered $20,000. (Op. 7.)
On April 11, MAIF finally filed its answer to the Complaint. (Op. 7.)
Plaintiff alleged that MAIF had acted in bad faith by taking nine months to determine whether its policy was in effect at the time of the accident. (Op. 7.) and that MAIF failed to make informed decisions supported by the evidence. (Op. 8.)
MAIF responded that they had handled the two claims separately from each other. (Op. 8). MAIF did not provide its claim file with its response.
The MIA held that MAIF acted in bad faith because it “failed to include a copy of each document from its claim file that enables reconstruction of its activities relative to the Plaintiff’s claim.” (Op. 10.) . The MIA highlighted that MAIF had given Plaintiff an offer for less than her medicals ten months after the accident and that MAIF’s offers indicated that it had failed to investigate and evaluate the claim honestly. (Op. 11.)
Plaintiff included an itemized bill demonstrating how much time and expense went into preparing the case. The MIA therefore awarded her fees and expenses up to one third of the award, $6,667. (Op. 14.)