DCW Obtains $8 Million Jury Verdict in Jacksonville Insurance Bad Faith Trial
Jacksonville Jury awards $8M to Plaintiff in Bad Faith Case against Mercury Insurance
(PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. – January 31, 2018) – On January 26, 2018, trial attorneys Fred Cunningham and Gregory Yaffa obtained a jury verdict for nearly $8 million against Mercury Insurance Company of Florida, proving the company acted in bad faith by failing to settle a quadriplegia claim against Mercury’s policyholder, who had a $10,000.00 liability insurance policy with Mercury. The verdict was rendered after a 5-day jury trial presented in Duval County Circuit Court (case # l6-2016-CA-000925-XXXX-MA) before the Honorable Judge Adrian G. Soud.
Mr. Cunningham and Mr. Yaffa, Shareholders at Domnick Cunningham & Whalen, represented plaintiff Kevin Whitney, a passenger in a motor vehicle crash who was rendered quadriplegic at the age of 23 as a result of the negligence of Mercury’s insured. Mr. Whitney filed a claim for his injuries with Mercury which they failed to settle for their insured’s policy limits of $10,000.00. Mercury insisted on placing Shands Hospital on the settlement check because Shands had a $31,000.00 lien. When Mr. Whitney’s mother, acting as his power of attorney, asked if Shands could be taken off the check, Mercury waited 32 days to respond in a voice mail, which Mrs. Whitney never heard. After that, Mercury did nothing for the next 56 days. As a result, Mrs. Whitney went to the Jacksonville law firm of Pajcic & Pajcic, who filed suit on behalf of Kevin Whitney against Mercury’s insured. The bad faith case alleged that Mercury chose to expose its insured to a $7 million claim in an effort to avoid its own exposure to a medical lien totaling $31,000.00.
In accordance with Florida law, bad faith on the part of an insurance company is failing to settle a claim when, under all the circumstances, it could and should have done so, had it acted fairly and honestly toward its insured and with due regard for their interests.
Fred Cunningham, who served as first chair in the trial said, “I believe the jury saw that what Kevin and his mother wanted was reasonable, and saw that Mercury seemed more interested in protecting itself from a hospital lien or a Medicaid lien than protecting their customer from a quadriplegia case that was worth far, far more than either of those claims.” Mr. Cunningham has spent over 25 years litigating complex bad faith cases throughout Florida, recovering close to $400 million in settlements and verdicts.
Domnick Cunningham & Whalen is a national civil litigation firm based in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. The firm specializes in complex litigation including catastrophic personal injury, medical malpractice, products liability, nursing home abuse, trucking, and insurance bad faith litigation. For more information, visit www.dcwlaw.com or call 561-625-6260.